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;.0MUON, EDWAKD ARNOLD . 



THE ADVENTURES OF 

DUNSTEEFOECE 



BY 

MAJOE-GENEEAL L. C. DUNSTEEVILLE 

C.B., C.S.I. 



ILLUSTRATED 



LONDON 
EDWAED AENOLD 

1920 

lAll Bights Beserved} 



H 



•i *.: • 



• » •• 



'• • • • , 



PEEFACE 

THIS book is not intended to form a precise record 
of military operations and will be of small value to 
the student of strategy and tactics ; it is written solely 
with the design of interesting the general reader. Stories 
of the Hush-Hush Army, which bear no relation to facts, 
have been for a long time current, and it may be as well, 
therefore, to give an account of the actual occurrences. 
It would be impossible for any one member of my force 
to give a truthful account of anything but the actual 
operations in which he was personally engaged, and this 
would give no idea at all of the undertakings and achieve- 
ments of the mission as a whole ; the task, therefore, 
devolves on myself. This account is written from memory 
with only the assistance of a rough private diary. I 
can, therefore, only guarantee the facts while leaving 
numbers " round " and figures ** approximate." 

To attempt a detailed account of the various operations 
undertaken by detachments of the Force would be quite 
beyond the scope of the present volume, and such accounts 
to be of real value should be written by those who led 
the several expeditions. Thus Major Wagstaff would tell 
of the Zinjan-Mianeh venture among the Shah-Savans, 
Major Starnes of the dealings round Bijar with the Kurdish 
tribes. Major Macarthy of the Persian levies, Colonel 



439840 



vi PREFACE 

Matthews of the fighting round Resht, Colonel Keyworth 
of the Baku fighting, and Colonel Stokes of Staff work 
in a revolutionary army. 

In recounting the various episodes, it is not possible 
always to give full recognition to those officers who 
contributed on each occasion to the success of certain 
enterprises or to whose ingenuity and suggestions certain 
plans were due. Such recognition is found in the official 
records, and the reader will understand that when a 
General is writing an account of the achievements of 
a force under his command, it is not possible for him 
entirely to eliminate the first person and say " I and 
my Staff," or to add in each case the name of any 
officer who may have furnished the brilliant idea. 

I was particularly well served not only by my Staff, 

but by all the officers to whom various tasks were 

entrusted, and to whom I desire to record my deep 

sense of gratitude. 

L. C. DUNSTERVILLE. 
Agra. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTBB 

I. THE GATES AJAR . 

II. A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 

III. "the SEA ! THE sea!". 

IV. WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 
V. AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 

VI. WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS 

VII. FAMINE .... 

VIII. A PAUSE AT HAMADAN . 

IX. A STEP IN ADVANCE 

X. THE LAST STAGE TO THE 8BA . 

XI. TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 

Xn. IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 

XIII. WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 

XIV. SHORT OF EVERYTHING . 

XV. THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 

XVI. THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 

XVII. THE WITHDRAWAL 

INDEX .... 
vii 



P4aa 
1 

. 11 

. 31 

. 50 

. 68 

. 85 

. 102 

, 118 

. 13J> 

. 155 

. 175 

. 195 

. 218 

. 239 

. 263 

. 279 

. 297 

. 319 



LIST OF ILLUSTEATIONS 



PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR . . . Frontispiece 

TO FACE PAQH 
"colonel DUNCAN AND MYSELF SET OFF IN THE EARLY 
MORNING " . 



THE KA8VIN-RESHT ROAD 

LIEUTENANT SINGER IN THE ARMOURED CAR 

"a MOUNTAIN STREAM PROVIDES WATER AND A DRAINAGE 
CHANNEL " . 



24 
82 
36 



. 58 

GENERAL BARATOV . , . . . .70 

COSSACKS HOMEWARD BOUND . . . . .86 

A COURTYARD IN THE BAZAAR, HAMADAN . . .112 

RESHT, CLOSE TO THE CONSULATE .... 164 

A BRANCH OF THE SEFID-RUD AT RESHT . . .172 

MIRZA KUCHIK KHAN : RETURNED TO CIVIL LIFE . . 190 

"a MAZE OF NARROW AND TORTUOUS STREETS" . . 202 

OIL WELLS AT BIBI-EIBAT ..... 226 

"the quays in the NEIGHBOURHOOD OF OUR WHARF '' . 232 

MAJOR-GENERAL DUNSTERVILLE AND COLONEL ARATUNOV . 256 

"refugees ESCAPING PROM THE WRATH TO COME" . . 260 

AFTER THE EVACUATION. THE 39tH INFANTRY BRIGADE AT 

ENZELI ....... 314 



1 



f 



t 



LIST OF MAPS 

GENERAL OUTLINE MAP OF MESOPOTAMIA, PERSIA AND 

TRANSCAUCASIA . . . Instde front cover 

THE ENVIRONS OP BAKU .... Facing page 220 

THE BAKU PENINSULA . . . . , At end 



THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 



CHAPTER I 
THE GATES AJAR 

THE history of these adventures, which cover the 
whole stretch of country lying between Baghdad 
i»nd Baku, deals with a problem which by a curious coin- 
ddence abounds in unavoidable alliterations, the letter 

standing for Berlin, Batoum, Baku, Bokhara and 
[Baghdad, and if one wanted to run the alliteration to 
death, one might add Byzantium for Constantinople. 
Thus the object of the mission with which I was ordered 
to proceed to the Caucasus at the end of 1917, as well 
as the enemy plans that led to the dispatch of the mission, 
can best be set forth briefly under this letter of the 
alphabet. 

One of the big items in the deep-laid pre-war schemes 
of Germany for world-domination was the absorption 
of Asia Minor and the penetration into further Asia by 
means of the Berlin-Baghdad railway. When Baghdad 
was taken by the British in March 1917, and the prospect 
of its recapture by the Turks appeared very remote, 
the scheme for German penetration into Asia had to be 
shifted further north and took the obvious line Bbrlin- 
Baku-Bokhara. 

In this latter scheme it was evident that the Southern 
Caucasus, Baku and the Caspian Sea would play a large 

2 1 



2 TfE tlDVJENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

part ; and the object of my mission was to prevent 
German and Turkish penetration in this area. 

Fate ordained that, just at the time that the British 
thwarted the more southern German scheme by the 
capture of Baghdad, the Russian breakdown opened 
the northern route to the unopposed enterprise of the 
Germans. Until the summer of 1917 the Russian troops 
held firm, though it was obvious that the process of dis- 
integration could not long be delayed. Their line extended 
from South Russia, through the Caucasus, across the 
Caspian, through North- West Persia until its left joined 
up with the British right on the frontier of Persia and 
Mesopotamia, east of Baghdad. By the autumn of 1917 
this line was melting away, troops deserted en masse 
and the entire army announced its intention of with- 
drawing from the struggle and proceeding home. 

Thus in the neighbourhood of Erzerum the Turkish 
Army, acting unconsciously as the Advanced Guard of 
German aims, found nothing between it and the long- 
coveted possession of the Southern Caucasus, with the 
exception of a few Armenian troops, disorganized, without 
cohesion and equally impregnated with the spirit of the 
revolution. But, as the line of the Turkish advance lay 
through their homes, they were compelled to offer resist- 
ance. Tiflis, the capital of the Southern Caucasus, was 
likely to fall without serious resistance into the hands of 
the enemy, and the capture of this town would give the 
Turko-German armies control of the railway line between 
Batoum on the Black Sea and Baku on the Caspian, the 
enormously valuable oilfields of Baku, the indispensable 
minerals of the Caucasus Mountains, and the vast supplies 
of grain and cotton from the shores of the Caspian Sea. 

The scene of conflict being too far removed from any 
of the main areas of the war — Baghdad to Baku is 800 
miles — it was quite impossible to send sufl&cient troops 
to meet the situation. 



J 



THE GATES AJAR 8 

The only possible plan, and it was a very sound one, 
was to send a British mission to Tiflis. This mission, 
on reaching its destination, would set to work to re- 
organize the broken units of Russian, Georgian and 
Armenian soldiery, and restore the battle-line against 
the Turkish invasion. The prospects were considerable, 
and success would be out of all proportion to the numbers 
employed or the cost involved. It was attractive and 
practical. 

The honour of command fell to my lot, and I set forth 
from Baghdad with the leading party in January 1918. 

Let me state at the outset that it entirely failed to 
achieve its original object, and never even reached Tiflis ! 
But the story I propose to tell is of its endeavours to 
reach that spot, of the other tasks that fell incidentally 
to its lot, and of its minor achievements, which I am 
convinced were of great value to the Allied cause. 

It will be left to the reader to deduce from the general 
narrative the value of these achievements, but I may 
draw attention to the one immediately following the 
abandonment of the Tiflis scheme, to wit, that by a kind 
of moral camouflage, the original first party of twelve 
officers and forty-one men filled the gap left in North 
Persia by the evacuating Russians on 300 miles of 
road, and entirely checked all enemy enterprise on this 
line, though hampered by the threatening hostility of 
the neutral Persians. 

Before beginning the narrative of the adventures of 
the mission, it may be interesting to survey very briefly 
the Tiflis scheme. 

From the enemy's point of view, the Turk would 
undoubtedly be actuated by an intense desire to gain 
possession of valuable territory in the only theatre of war 
where victories fell like ripe plums into his lap, he could 
indulge his long-standing hatred of the Armenian to its 
fullest extent, and the individual soldier would be tempted 



4 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

by the rich loot which the larger cities would afford. But 
on the other hand the Turkish Army as a whole was no 
longer the well-organized machine of 1916. The troops 
were tired, and their leaders were no longer inspired by 
the certainty of ultimate victory, but rather were de- 
pressed by the extreme probability of the contrary result. 
Against such an army it should be easy to reorganize the 
large numbers of Georgian and Armenian troops, whose 
fighting spirit would be multiplied a hundredfold by their 
determination to keep the hated invader out of their 
homes. 

This last proposition seems so obvious that it might 
well be taken as a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately 
the event proved the exact reverse ! The revolution had 
so taken the heart out of the men, that this primitive 
spirit of the defence of hearth and home, one of the 
strongest instincts the human being possesses, was 
entirely absent in the case of the South Caucasians. 

' The only possible line of success for the mission would 
have been to have worked on this feeling of patriotism 
and love of home. It may seem incredible, but it is 
certain that such a feeling did not exist, and plans based 
upon it would have been foredoomed to failure ; but to 
make the assertion is surely not to be laid to the blame 
of those who counted on the existence of such a feeling. 

The truth of the matter is that Tifiis, long before 
the war, had what the Russians call a German " orien- 
tation." 

In their deep preparation for this great war the 
German left no stone unturned, and the Caucasus, north 
and south, had been thoroughly exploited by them in 
view of possible eventualities. 

The inhabitants of Tifiis read their Reuters and com- 
pared them with the glorious revelations of the German 
wireless : Obviously Germany was going to win the war. 
'* Therefore why should we have the British here to prolong 



THE GATES AJAR 5 

matters ? Let the Turks take the country : we look to 
a victorious and magnanimous Germany to protect us 
from Turkish excesses and to turn them out again when 
the war is over. The Turkish invasion is only a temporary 
inconvenience from which the Germans will later relieve 
us." Such was undoubtedly the Tiflis train of thought, 
especially among the Georgian population. At the back 
of the Armenian mind always lay the terror of impending 
massacre. 

This lack of national spirit is an example of the terrible 
uncertainty with which those are confronted who are 
called on to deal with military problems. The one factor 
that may fairly be regarded as certain turns out exactly 
contrary. When this story reaches the final stage of 
the defence of Baku against the Turks, it will be seen that 
in the eleventh hour, with their beloved city, their private 
wealth, their wives and children, in hourly danger of 
falling into the hands of the enemy, and firmly believing 
in the certainty of a general massacre — even at such a 
moment as this, the spirit on which a successful defence 
could alone be based was never evoked. There is no 
doubt that this lack of heart must be attributed to the 
revolution. All the factors that go to make up what 
we call " bravery " are shivered to pieces in a revolution, 
and their place is taken by a dull apathy that meets all 
situations with the hopeless query, " What is the use of 
anything ? " 

So much for the South Caucasus. Now as to Persia. 

Although Persia was declared neutral, her territory 
had been used from the commencement of the war, both 
by the Russians and the Turks, who fought each other 
up and down the road from Kasvin to Kermanshah, until 
our capture of Baghdad left the Russians in undisputed 
possession. In 1917, therefore, the Russians were holding 
the road running north-east from the Perso-Mesopotamian 
frontier to the Caspian Sea. The Turks, though not 



6 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

showing any intention of attacking on that line, still 
kept a sufficient number of troops on a line parallel to 
and north-west of the Russian line to necessitate a 
constant look-out in that direction. 

When, with the advent of the Bolsheviks to power in 
November 1917, the Russian troops in North Persia 
began to break away, it became obvious that a gap of 
some 450 miles would be left open on the right flank of 
the British Mesopotamian army, through which Turkish 
and German agents and troops could flood Central Asia 
unopposed. 

It was hoped to stop this gap by re-enlisting, under 
the British flag, a sufficient number of well-paid volunteers 
from the ranks of the retreating Russians. 

The efforts made in this direction were a complete 
failure. 

The reasons for the failure were mainly those narrated 
above — revolutionaries will kill, but they won't fight. The 
few men enlisted were quite worthless, and the revolu- 
tionary Committees proclaimed sentence of death on 
any one supporting the movement ; so it had to be 
abandoned. As a matter of fact, the gap created in this 
portion of the line was actually filled by the officers and 
N.C.O.'s of the mission, under circumstances which will 
be narrated farther on. 

It only remains now to give a very short description 
of the geography of the terrain. 

Leaving Baghdad in an easterly direction, the monoto- 
nous flat country of Mesopotamia continues for about 
80 miles as the crow flies, until the Persian frontier, which 
practically coincides with the foot of the mountains, is 
reached. The approach to the hills is gradual, commencing 
with the usual Jebels, or foothills, which begin to break 
the level of the dead flat ground at about 20 miles before 
we come to the actual frontier. 

From this point on to the Caspian Sea, 400 miles in 



THE GATES AJAR 7 

a straight line, the country consists of a succession of 
barren hills and fertile valleys, the line of the parallel 
ranges running N.W. to S.E., while the road runs N.E., 
thus taking each range at right angles. The passes run 
to between 5,000 and 8,000 feet above sea-level, and the 
general level of the country lies between 3,000 and 7,000 
feet. 

On the Taq-i-Giri Pass, by which travellers from 
Mesopotamia enter the Persian uplands, there are a few 
stunted oaks on the hillsides ; these are practically 
the only wild trees seen until we come to the Elburz 
mountains, which skirt the southern shores of the Caspian 
Sea. Passing through this mountain range at Menjil, 
the last 70 miles down to the sea display an example of 
the vivid contrasts that only Asia affords. After more 
than 300 miles of hills as barren as the rocks of Aden, a 
country is suddenly entered which is clothed in the very 
thickest of forest, producing an effect as striking as a 
sudden transition from one planet to another. The last 
20 miles of this road down to the Russian Concession 
Port of Kazian (or Enzeli) lies on the flat among low 
dunes, and represents the portion of the sea that has 
gradually been silted up in the course of centuries by 
the mud brought down from the Elburz range and the 
sand blown in from the sea by the northerly gales. 

The Caspian basin encloses every sort of climate and 
temperature, the shores display every variety of country, 
inhabited by numberless races, the fragments of submerged 
great races of the past. As regards climate, the port 
of Astrakhan at the mouth of the Volga in the extreme 
North is icebound in winter, while the country round 
Enzeli is rice-growing ; plantains and palms flourish in 
the open, and the winter is chiefly characterized by warm 
drizzling rain. 

The country on the north-west, north and most of 
the eastern shores is flat, either grass-growing steppe or 



8 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

sandy desert ; on the west and south tower the offshoots 
of the Caucasus range and the magnificent range of the 
Elburz Mountains. 

The principal races inhabiting the shores are Russians 
and Cossacks in the northern area, Turcomans to the 
east, Persians and Gilanis to the south, Tartars, Georgians, 
Armenians and Daghestanis on the west. 

With the exception of the southern shore, which is 
Persian territory, the entire sea lies within the Russian 
zone, and on this southern shore, a veritable Naboth's 
vineyard, the chief port and the fisheries form a Russian 
concession — and a very valuable concession it is. The 
road from the port to Teheran and to Hamadan is equally 
a Russian property. 

The traffic on the sea is very considerable, as it forms 
a sort of exchange market for the caviare and frozen fish 
of the Russian fisheries, the rice of Gilan and the wheat 
and cotton of Turkestan, against the oil of Baku and the 
cotton fabrics and other European commodities that are 
brought down the Volga to Astrakhan. Where oil fuel 
is so cheap, and fierce storms so frequent, there is not 
much scope for sailing ships, and the fleet of steamships 
is large for so small an area. Without having access to 
official figures we calculated on a mercantile fleet on the 
Caspian of something like 250 ships, running from 200 tons 
to over 1,000, some, built in England, having reached the 
Caspian via the Volga on their own bottoms. 

A small fleet of three very diminutive gunboats, the 
KarSy the Ardaghmi and the Geoh Tepe, rules the waves 
in this inland sea, and are sufficient to keep order where 
there can be no opposition. This fleet has naturally had 
a good deal to say in politics since the revolution started, 
mainly with a view to the financial advantage of the 
sailors. It is remarkable how willingly a revolutionary 
government listens to the demands of the fleet when the 
seat of government is on the seashore and the guns of 
the ships are trained on vital spots. 



I 



THE GATES AJAR 9 

The foregoing very rough outline of the political events 
leading up to the determination to dispatch the mission 
to Tiflis, and of the general nature of the country traversed 
in the course of operations, will suffice, I hope, to give 
the reader a sufficient notion of the setting of the scene. 

One other point requires to be dealt with — the com- 
position of the mission. 

In view of the special nature of the task with which 
it was to deal, actual troops would not be required. A 
nucleus of some 200 officers, and a similar number of 
N.C.O.'s, would take the place of leaders and instructors 
in the reorganized units. 

These officers and N.C.O.'s were chosen from all the 
units in the various theatres of the war, from France, 
Salonika, Egypt and Mesopotamia. They were chiefly 
from the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South 
African contingents. All were chosen for special ability, 
and all were men who had already distinguished themselves 
in the field. It is certain that a finer body of men have 
never been brought together, and the command was one 
of which any man might well be proud. 

But the assembling of the force was a difficult task. 
If time had not been an important factor, it would have 
been a great advantage to have first assembled it at some 
point, and then set forth on our quest. This, however, 
was quite impossible. Time was the chief factor in the 
problem, and I had to push off personally as soon as I 
could get together an advance party of a few officers. 

The remainder of the force arrived in batches during 
the next two months. In its entirety it was never collected 
in one place, owing to the varying nature of the duties 
and the huge area in which it was operating. This, in 
itself, was a great handicap, but quite unavoidable. 

My own knowledge of the Russian language and known 
sympathy with Russia had probably a good deal to do 
with my selection for the task, but it was not to be expected 



10 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

that the officers of my force would, as a general rule, be 
linguists : and they were not. 

There were, however, a few who could manage a little 
Russian as a result of lessons taken on board ship on the 
way out, and here and there one or two who could manage 
intelligible French. The officers originally selected for 
Staff work were admirably chosen and included several 
who could speak both Russian and French. 

Others from the remoter corners of the earth were 
acquainted with the languages of the tribes they were 
accustomed to deal with, but such languages would 
obviously bear little affinity to those of Asia or Europe. 
On one occasion I had to explain that the Zulu " clicks " 
would be of no assistance in mastering Persian ! 

To this body of British officers were added a splendid 
batch of Russian officers sent out from London, and 
various other Russians, refugees from the revolution who 
joined me later, and whose services were of the greatest 
value. 

This, then, will suffice for a general introduction. I 
have endeavoured to make clear the strategic, and political 
situation that resulted in the sending of the mission : 
I have given a rough description of the country over 
which the mission was to seek its adventures, and I have 
introduced the characters who are to take part in these 
adventures. 



J 



CHAPTER II 
A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 

ON December 24, 1917, while in command of the 
1st Infantry Brigade on the North- West Frontier 
of India, I received secret orders to report at Army Head 
Quarters at Delhi, with a view to proceeding overseas 
on special work. 

The Frontier Tribes, who in the previous year had 
made things quite lively for us, had been lulled to rest 
by the various ingenuities of frightfulness that accompany 
modern war — aeroplanes and armoured cars having 
quite taken the heart out of them. 

Things were distinctly dull, and one was beginning 
to feel that one had drifted into a backwater, when the 
welcome orders came bringing the longed-for opportunity 
of plunging once more into the tide. 

Arrangements for departure occupied the shortest 
possible time, and after a brief stay at Army Head 
Quarters in Delhi for the purpose of conference and 
selection of Staff, I embarked at Karachi on January 6, 
1918, reaching Basra — the new Basra, with its wonder- 
ful development and miles of wharves — on January 12th. 

On the morning of January 18th I arrived in Baghdad 
and reported to General Head Quarters. 

So far, I was the single representative of my force, 
and though impatient of delay, it was obviously neces- 
sary for me to await my officers there. Even had they 

11 



12 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

been at once available, a certain amount of delay would 
have been inevitable. There were plans to be considered, 
experts to be consulted, office arrangements to be per- 
fected and the thousand and one things to be attended 
to that must crop up on such occasions. 

In the first place it was desirable to appreciate the 
situation and to realize what difficulties would have to 
be overcome. For this purpose it was necessary to study 
maps and get in touch with the latest intelligence from 
the regions in which we would be operating. In this 
matter I was greatly helped by Major Sir Walter Barttelot, 
D.S.O., of the Coldstream Guards, who had recently 
traversed the whole route while the Russians were holding 
it and before their line had broken away. At this time, 
Captain G. Goldsmith arrived from England on a special 
mission which was to link up with mine, and I decided 
to send both these officers through in motor-cars a few 
days in advance of my party, to ensure petrol supply 
at certain points en route. 

I calculated that I should be able to start in a few 
days with ten or twelve officers travelling in Ford touring 
cars and vans. 

For the party of twelve officers and two clerks which 
eventually composed the advanced party, it was 
necessary to have four touring cars and thirty-six vans — 
a liberal amount of transport, it may be thought, for 
so small a party. But the vans are very small and light, 
and from the space available in each must be deducted 
the requirements of the driver, including liberal bedding 
in view of the climatic conditions anticipated. Then 
there was a considerable weight of money in Persian 
silver and English gold, an office establishment, medical 
stores, reserve rations and other impedimenta insepar- 
able from an undertaking of this sort. 

In appreciating the situation, the following unfavour- 
able factors constituted a rather formidable list : 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 13 

(a) Road difficulties. 
(6) Winter storms. 

(c) Question of Persian neutrality — a very doubtful 

factor at this period. 

(d) Hostility of Kurds. 

(e) Possible difficulties with revolutionary Russians^ 

especially with Bolsheviks. 
(/) Declared hostility of the Jangalis of Gilan on the 

South Caspian shore. 
(g) Supplies of food. 
(h) Supplies of petrol. 

To take these in turn : The road from Baghdad to 
Khanikin, 94 miles, over the ordinary hard clay soil, 
was reported quite good in dry weather ; from Khanikin 
to Hamadan, 240 miles, a very doubtful road, improved 
and made passable for motors by the Russians, difficult' 
in good weather, impassable in bad ; from Hamadan 
to Enzeli (Kazian), 267 miles, a first-rate road made by 
the Russian Road Company many years ago, and now 
sadly in need of repair. 

Snowstorms were reported to be frequent at this 
time of year, possibly blocking the passes. 

Possible hostility of Persians ; it was hard to feel 
certain on this point. The known factors were that the 
inhabitants were well armed and strongly resented our 
intrusion. At the same time a study of Persian character 
in the world-famous book of " Haji Baba of Ispahan " 
led one to discount the dangers of this hostility. 

The Kurds lying to the north of the road were rather 
a different matter. Living in the most mountainous 
regions and doing a good business in highway robbery, 
the mention of their name strikes awe into the ordinary 
Persian, though the Russians, too, held them in great 
respect and certainly over-estimated their ferocity. 
During the Russian tenure of this road, losses of indi- 



n 



14 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

vidual men from Kurdish raiders were very frequent. 
Comparison was made between them and the Pathans 
of the North-West Frontier of India, and had this been 
a true comparison the prospects of the mission would 
indeed have been dismal. 

The meeting with the Russian Army in revolution, 
and especially with the Bolshevik portion of it, seemed 
to promise insuperable difficulties, as the Bolsheviks 
had already, in resentment at the British Government's 
refusal of recognition, adopted a strongly anti-British 
attitude. 

The Jangalis of Gilan, under the redoubtable revolu- 
tionary leader Kuchik Khan, might offer an even greater 
obstacle to the success of the mission. Mirza Kuchik 
Khan had forcibly taken over the administration of the 
whole of the Gilan country, through which lay the last 
70 miles of our road, had adopted a fiercely anti-foreign 
programme threatening death and destruction to all 
white men who came his way, and was now, in con- 
junction with the Bolsheviks, holding Enzeli, the only 
port on the Caspian from which we could hope to embark. 

Difficulties of this sort usually melt away when firmly 
confronted, but should they be all successfully over- 
come, we would be eventually landed in the port of Baku, 
more strongly Bolshevik and anti-British at this time 
than any point in the Caucasus. 

Next, the question of food supply for fifty-five officers 
and men would certainly prove difficult in a famine-stricken 
and war-devastated country in the depth of winter ; and 
finally the question of petrol supply was extraordinarily 
difficult and was naturally the key of the whole situation, 
as every pint had to come from Baghdad, and the diffi- 
culty thus increased in geometrical progression with 
every mile of road traversed. 

The risk of failure of petrol supply was very con- 
siderable, but in the end no such failure occurred. From 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 15 

Baghdad to Kermanshah, where we met the first Russian 
detachment, we carried our own petrol, filling up from 
the last dump 150 miles from Baghdad. From Ker- 
manshah onwards the Russian authorities helped us. 

Major Barttelot and Captain Goldsmith left on 
January 24th with an escort of one light armoured motor- 
car under Lieutenant Singer, having orders to proceed as 
far as Hamadan, ensure the petrol supply and await 
the arrival of my party there. 

The risk of so small a party entering Kurdish territory 
would have been considerable ; but the moral effect of 
the armoured car is enormous, and the advent of winter 
had driven most of the Kurds to the lower valleys on the 
Mesopotamian side. 

By January 26th my party had grown to fourteen, 
and at last the moment had arrived when a start might 
be made. During these days of waiting, I had had to 
consider whether it would not perhaps be better for me 
to push on to Hamadan alone, and so get more in touch 
with local conditions and begin collecting information. 
But I decided against this plan for two reasons, firstly 
because it would make communication with London more 
difficult, and there were many important minor points 
not yet settled ; and secondly because a possibly long 
halt in Hamadan would attract attention to the mission 
and give our numerous ill-wishers plenty of leisure to 
plan out annoyances for our further move. 

I had cabled home stating that I had decided to stay 
in Baghdad till a small party of officers had been col- 
lected, and then to hasten on a non-stop journey through 
to Enzeli, thence straight on boardship and to Baku, 
where I would arrive, if all went well, in about twelve 
days, and before any of the various enemy plans to stop 
us could mature. In theory the idea of the non-stop 
journey was delightful ; as a matter of fact the journey 
eventually involved more stopping than travelling. 



L 



16 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

The soldiers' worst enemy, or best friend, the weather, 
turned against us at the start, and put a stop to any- 
thing in the nature of rapid progress. 

At last, at 7 a.m. on January 27th, the forty-one 
Ford cars were lined up outside the walls of Baghdad 
waiting for the word to start. I had chosen the follow- 
ing officers to accompany me : Captain Dunning, A.D.C., 
Lieut. -Colonel Duncan, A.Q.M.G., Captain Saunders, 
G.S.O., Captain Stork, Staff Captain, Captains Hooper, 
Jackson and Annett, representing Infantry, Artillery and 
Cavalry ; Major Brunskill and Captain John, Medical ; 
Captains Campbell and Aldham, Supply and Mechanical 
Transport ; and as clerks, Sergeants Routledge and 
Watson. 

For fighting purposes we could muster forty-one 
rifles from among the drivers, and we had one Lewis-gun 
in charge of Captain Hooper, 

With a punctual start and fine weather the distance 
to Khanikin, 94 miles, was covered without excessive 
delay. But even under such favourable conditions it 
took ten and a half hours to cover the distance. As it 
is imperative in such circumstances to keep a convoy 
together, all cars must halt at intervals till the repair 
car at the rear of the column joins up and reports "all 
correct." The delay, therefore, to be expected when 
travelling with forty-one cars is roughly forty-one times 
the average delay when travelling with one car. It may 
be considered a good day when the average speed 
approaches 10 miles an hour. 

Since my arrival in Baghdad the weather had been 
uniformly fine, but it seemed too much to hope for a con- 
tinuance of the blue sky. Sure enough, as we approached 
the mountains the clouds gathered over the distant hill- 
tops, and there was every indication of the worst 
possible weather, an indication completely fulfilled in 
the next few hours. 



I 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 17 

After spending a very comfortable night in a ruined 
Turkish building at Khanikin, and receiving much kind 
hospitality from the British garrison there, we left again 
on the 28th for Pai-Taq, 61 miles, reaching our destina- 
tion in a violent gale accompanied by sleet, after a run 
of about ten hours. We had averaged only 6 miles an 
hour owing to bad roads, bad weather and bad luck 
with repairs. The rain started almost as soon as we 
left Khanikin, and amply fulfilled the gloomy prophecies 
of yesterday. 

The village of Pai-Taq at the foot of the Taq-i-Giri 
Pass afforded us shelter of a sort for the night. The 
wretched villages all along this road had been destroyed 
time after time by Russians and Turks in turn, in the 
course of the fighting during the two previous years. 
The remaining miserable inhabitants wander, gaunt with 
famine, among the ruins, and tearfully regard the advent 
of yet another host of invaders, of yet another nation- 
ality. They will soon learn that the new-comers are 
not destroyers but restorers. 

From Pai-Taq the next stage of the journey was to 
land us in Harunabad, but starting on January 29th 
it was not till February 2nd that we actually completed 
those 41 miles. The road from Pai-Taq ascends for the 
first 3 miles very steeply up the face of a cliff, and as 
we got under way at break of day in the worst sort of 
weather, our prospects did not seem very bright. We 
soon found that pushing our cars up the incline by hand 
was good enough exercise, but not helpful from the point 
of view of progress. 

At the top of the cliff it was pleasant to find a rosy- 
faced Hampshire lad sitting on the edge of the rock, a 
sentry from one of the last picquets that guarded our 
road for us. This war has produced many scenes of mar- 
vellous contrast, but I think the picture of that young 
soldier was among the most striking. There on the 

3 



18 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

road from Persia to Babylon, the road trodden by the 
Medes and Persians, on the rocky barren hillside of 
the Persian mountains sat a youngster from the kindly 
Hampshire downs. 

When the top of this the steepest portion of the 
road has been successfully climbed, another 3 miles of 
bad road remains before the watershed is reached. It 
remained to be seen whether this second half would be 
at all passable in the snowstorm, which continued with 
unabated vigour. At this point we found the camp of 
the 1/4 Hampshire Regiment, close to the village of 
Surkhadisa, and a halt was made to fill up our petrol 
tanks and await a break in the weather before bidding 
a farewell to the last outpost of the Mesopotamian army, 
and finally launching out on our own resources. The 
longed-for break occurred soon after 1.30 p.m., and 
the journey was resumed in high spirits. But not for 
long. The sun shone brightly for precisely ten minutes, 
when down came the snow again in a blinding whirl that 
made further driving, on a mountain road that was 
entirely obliterated, a matter of absolute impossibility. 
So after one or two ineffectual charges into snowdrifts, we 
had to bow to the inevitable and get back to Surkhadisa, 
where we tucked ourselves up very comfortably in a 
ruined caravanserai. Most of the roof was down, but 
enough remained to give shelter to us all, and the presence 
of two dead horses did not prevent us from feeling glad 
of the shelter. 

Evils and blessings balance 'as a rule. As witness 
those horrible horses. In summer time they would have 
made the whole atmosphere unbearable. As it was, 
being frozen, they were only remarkable to the eye. 
So with the insects of these filthy serais ; they were 
all dormant for the winter and left us in peace. 

So again with the Kurds. The same snow that 
annoyed us had driven them down from the hills, and 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 19 

had left the few who remained very disinclined to molest 
us. Under normal summer circumstances the risk of 
bullets from Kurds, and typhus from insects, would 
have been considerable. " Autant de gagne sur 
I'ennemi." 

In the serai at Surkhadisa we were fated to stay for 
several days, each day reconnoitring with a view to getting 
the cars to the top of the pass ; but as snow fell daily 
and the drifts became deeper and deeper as the top was 
approached, it seemed that we might be compelled to 
stay for an indefinite time. 

At last, on February 2nd, I decided to make an early 
start and try to get over the pass before the snow-surface 
melted. 

Starting at 4 a.m. in bright moonlight, the top of the 
pass was reached by 7.30 a.m. Nothing could exceed 
the beauty of the narrow snowclad glen which leads to 
the summit, and as we pushed the cars slowly over the 
crisp snow, we were confronted every now and then by 
grey visions of passing Kurds, who flitted harmlessly 
by. The only test of the hostility of these heavily armed 
figures is when they open fire. 

The British Consul at Kermanshah, which lay some 
70 railes ahead of us, had evolved a system of road-guards 
from among the Kurds themselves, making it difficult 
for the new-comer to be certain whether any particular 
individual was there to guard us, or whether he was the 
Kurd we were to be guarded against. In any case there 
is not much in it. He could assume either character as 
the occasion dictated. 

However, the mere fact of there being road-guards 
and consuls ahead of us, and bank managers, and 
alongside of us telegraph and telephone wires, made us 
feel that, however wild the land we were in, we were 
not quite out of touch with civilization. True, the 
telegraph and telephone wires were hanging in festoons, 



20 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

but the poles and insulators remained, and the line could 
be restored without much difficulty. These consuls 
and bank managers are the real heroes whose tale is 
seldom told. Through all the troubles and vicissitudes 
of these years of war, they (and their brave wives with 
them) have kept the flag flying in these remote corners 
of the earth. Harried by Turks, threatened by local 
disturbances and sometimes compelled to fly for refuge, 
leaving all their wordly goods behind them, they reappear 
when the storm is over and complacently continue their 
truly imperial tasks. 

The rate of progress to the top of the pass was just 
one mile an hour, and this only achieved by dint of 
pushing and pulling and occasional digging. However, at 
7 a.m. we found ourselves with a nice down slope before 
us and the worst part of our labours over. At Surkhadisa 
we had been joined by a light armoured car as escort, 
but it was quite impossible to get anything but the very 
light Fords over the difficult road, and we had to leave 
this escort behind. 

Up to this point signs of famine were numerous, and 
we not infrequently passed the corpse of some poor, 
weary, hungry fellow who had given up the struggle by 
the roadside. At Karind, 20 miles from Pai-Taq, we 
encountered gangs of villagers, men and women, work- 
ing under the guidance of an American missionary at the 
usual form of famine relief — road-improvements. This 
was part of an extensive system of relief inaugurated by 
the British Consul at Kermanshah. 

From Karind another 20 miles brought us to our 
destination of Harunabad, having covered the distance 
of 41 miles in twelve hours, or at the rate of a little better 
that 3 miles an hour. 

At Harunabad, a typical Kurd village, we passed a 
very comfortable night in some of the few houses still 
left standing, and nothing occurred to disturb our slumbers 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 21 

except a visit from a donkey who insisted on sharing our 
sleeping apartment. 

At 6.30 a.m. on February 3rd we were off again for 
Kermanshah, and managed to do the 40 miles in seven 
hours, a good deal better timing than yesterday's. 

The road was mostly across the flat-bottomed valleys 
common to this part of Persia. The most important 
of these valleys is the Mahi-Dasht, which we were lucky 
to cross in the early hours of the day. This plain is 
usually a sea of mud of the consistency of cream, and 
in wet weather forms an impassable obstacle. 

At the outskirts of the town we found two Kuban 
Cossacks on their shaggy horses, waiting to show us the 
way to our billets. They were fine -looking fellows, 
belonging to Colonel Bicherakov's " partisans." Circling 
the town under their guidance, we came to a well-built 
Persian house standing opposite to the British Consulate, 
the Imperial Bank of Persia and the American Mission. 
This house had been arranged for our accommodation, 
and provided the bath of which we were very much in 
need. 

It will be necessary now to introduce Colonel Bichera- 
kov, a truly heroic figure, as he and his picturesque 
Cossacks have much to do with the further narrative. 
Bicherakov is a man of about forty years of age, slightly 
built and of commanding presence. He is an Ossietin 
Cossack, one of those semi-wild tribes that are typical 
of the North Caucasus. Throughout the war he has 
done splendid service, and has been wounded on many 
occasions. His men worship him as a fearless leader. 
Incidentally, he is C.B., D.S.O. 

At the time of our meeting he was commanding a 
mixed Cossack force of all arms. His men, though not 
unaffected by the undisciplined ideas of the revolution, 
had resolved to be faithful to the death to Bicherakov's 
person, and their unflinching loyalty to him has since 



22 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

enabled him to accomplish great feats. Why the Rus- 
sians have chosen the name of " partisans " ^ for this force 
I do not know. With this detachment was Lieut. -Colonel 
Clutterbuck, of the Indian Army, acting as liason officer, 
a Russian scholar and a great favourite with the Cossacks. 
In addition to these troops Kermanshah had a Russian 
wireless installation worked by men of the New Zealand 
detachment. 

Our welcome from the European community was 
warm, and the contrast of sitting at an English dinner- 
table in the Consulate with white linen and glass made 
us smile as we thought of the friendly donkey and the 
dirty rooms of the night before. Colonel Kennion, the 
well-known traveller and " shikari," is the representative 
here of His Britannic Majesty's Government. Mrs. 
Kennion, who shares his risks and dangers, is one of those 
brave Englishwomen, of whom I have already spoken, 
who do so much in an unobtrusive way for the needs of 
the Empire. 

Delightful as Kermanshah was, it was not possible 
to spare time for a halt, though the cars would have 
been glad of a day's rest, so on the following morning, 
February 4th, at 5.30 a.m. we started for Hamadan (103 
miles), hoping to do the trip easily in two days. From 
the start things did not go well with us. Within the 
first quarter of a mile we had a broken axle that delayed 
the column for an hour and a half. At 20 miles we passed 
Bisitun, with the ancient rock inscriptions of Darius I, 
thence over a single arch bridge blown up by the Turks, 
but with just sufficient of the arch remaining to suit 
the width of our wheels. The ground here was free from 
snow, the sky was blue and the road so good that a Staff 

' Editor's Note. — The word *' partisan " is used equally in 

Bulgarian to express that familiar fauna of the Balkans called 

by the Turk the " komitadji,'* by the Greek the " andartis," by 
ourselves the " irregular." 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 23 

Officer yielded to the fatal temptation to say, " Well, 
we've got over our troubles now ; this is like a pleasure 
trip." He made that remark at about the fortieth mile, 
and at the forty-first mile we reached the foot of the small 
but steep Sahneh Pass where we had to man-handle 
each car up the slope, taking three hours to cover 
the distance of one mile. At the fifty-sixth mile the 
cars were running well, and we reached the town of 
Kangavar where, close to the ruins of a temple 
dating back to classical Greek times, a small Russian 
detachment welcomed us in the overwhelming style 
of Russian hospitality, with a hot meal for officers and 
men. It was getting late now, 4 p.m., and we had 22 
miles still to do. It was obvious that we should get 
belated in any case, and might experience increased 
difficulties and dangers in the dark. But on the other 
hand we might never reach our destination at all, and 
the chance, therefore, of giving the hungry drivers at 
least one full meal was too good to be lost. Moreover, 
we now had with us a guide, in the person of Lieutenant 
Georgiev of the Russian Army, who had been detailed 
by Colonel Bicherakov to accompany us as far as Hama- 
dan ; a most useful officer, without whose aid we would 
probably not have reached Asadabad at all that night. 
So, having yielded to temptation, we left again at 
5 p.m. Darkness soon came on, and the road was 
generally just a cross-country track often hardly dis- 
tinguishable from the surrounding plain. The drivers 
were almost too sleepy to carry on, and at 8 p.m. I was 
nearly tempted to halt in the open plain. The night 
was exceptionally fine, and nothing seemed less pro- 
bable than a change in the weather. However, by good 
fortune as events proved, I decided to press on, and we 
eventually reached Asadabad and got the cars and our- 
selves into a fairly clean serai, where we fell asleep with 
the pleasurable anticipation of an early start on the next 



24 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

morning, a stiff climb up the pass, 7,600 feet high, and 
an easy run into Hamadan only 25 miles ahead. The 
drivers had been at their work on this day for eighteen 
hours, and doubtless looked forward as much as any of 
us to the prospective comfort of decent billets and a 
day or two's halt. This was the night of February 4:th. 
The cars did not reach Hamadan till February 11 th ! 

I was up at 4 a.m. and stepped outside our little 
sleeping room to see that things were getting ready for 
the start. My horror and surprise may be imagined 
when I found a foot of snow on the ground and the sky 
filled with fast-falling heavy flakes. My first feeling was 
one of thankfulness that I had not camped out for the 
night on the open plain : had we done so, it is hard to 
see how we should ever have extricated ourselves from 
our dijBficulties. The next was naturally one of exaspera- 
tion at further delay just when time was becoming more 
and more valuable. *' Pleasure trip," indeed ! Let me 
dissociate myself on this one occasion from my Staff's 
views. 

The whole of the day was spent in endeavours to 
clear the pass, but as fast as we dug through the drifts 
the snow came down and obliterated our work. On the 
third day, February 6th, large gangs of villagers were 
employed but without success, and the snow continued 
to fall. 

On February 7th I determined to ride over the pass 
with one Staff Officer. After procuring two decent ponies 
and a local guide, Colonel Duncan and myself set off 
in the early morning, reaching Zageh on the far side of 
the pass at about noon, and motoring thence into 
Hamadan in a Russian car with Lieutenant Zypalov, 
who had been sent out from Hamadan to meet me. 

My object in getting to Hamadan ahead of the party 
was to procure assistance from that side in getting the 
cars over (they were eventually got over with drag ropes) 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 25 

and also to meet the many important people awaiting me 
there. Firstly there was General Offley-Shore, recently 
returned from Tiflis, who was to post me in all the 
latest information concerning the South Caucasus. Major 
Sir W. Barttelot and Captain Goldsmith, who had been 
collecting local information and arranging petrol supply, 
should also be here. In addition to these, there was 
valuable knowledge to be acquired from the Consul, Mr. 
McDowell, and from the Bank Manager, Mr. McMurray. 
And here I was to meet General Baratov, lately com- 
manding the victorious Russian Army that had fought 
the Turks on this road. He was now most uncomfort- 
ably remaining in command of revolutionary troops 
who would obey no orders. 

The problem of the evacuation of these disorderly 
troops was most difficult. Under normal circumstances 
an evacuation is difficult enough, but with troops that 
defy all authority it was obviously an almost impossible 
task. The great point was that the individual soldier 
was most anxious to get home, so he was certain to move, 
with or without orders, in that direction. With General 
Baratov was Colonel Rowlandson as liaison officer. 

On arrival at Hamadan we found most comfortable 
quarters at the Bank House. The same roof sheltered 
Major Barttelot, Captain Goldsmith, General Shore and 
others, and the charming and indefatigable hostess seemed 
prepared to welcome any number more. 

Throughout all the varying fortunes of the force in 
North Persia the Bank House at Hamadan stands out 
as a landmark, a never-failing refuge for the weary, a 
centre of genial hospitality and a focus of all the local 
political news. 

The first thing to do now was to send on Captain 
Goldsmith to explore the further road to Enzeli and to 
see about our petrol. He accordingly left on the follow- 
ing day, and fate ordained that we should not meet again. 



26 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

As he travelled singly on a road crowded with retiring 
Russian troops, he attracted no attention, and, being an 
adept in finding his way through difficult places, he reached 
Enzeli and thence Baku before local suspicions were 
aroused. As my party did not reach Baku till seven 
months later our prospect of meeting was small, and 
he had by that time joined up with Colonel Pike in the 
North Caucasus. 

On February 11th the cars at last got over the pass. 
On arriving at Hamadan the entire party of officers and 
men were most hospitably entertained by the American 
missionaries, who could not have welcomed their own 
men more warmly. Comfortable billets were found for 
all, the cars were overhauled and all was ready for a 
start, when further falls of snow blocked the Sultan 
Bulaq Pass which lay just ahead of us, rendering it im- 
possible to start till February 15th. On that day we 
got away by 6.30 a.m., and now that we were on the 
well-made Russian road we had every hope of making 
good progress, a hope that was, this time, not to be 
disappointed. The snow would have again blocked us, 
but the evacuating Russians in their anxiety to get them- 
selves home worked as they had never worked before, 
and the drifts were soon cut through. We crossed the 
pass without great difficulty in fine weather, and reached 
Aveh (75 miles) by 2 p.m., an average of about 10 miles 
an hour. The next day, February 15th, we reached 
Kasvin, where again we enjoyed the hospitality of the 
Imperial Bank of Persia, represented here by Mr. Goodwin. 
Kasvin is a town of 50,000 inhabitants and is one of the 
many earlier capitals of Persia. It lies at the junction 
of the Enzeli-Teheran road with the road by which we 
had come. Here it was useful to be able to consult with 
Sir Charles Marling, the British Minister in Teheran, 
before moving on to the Caspian and possibly leaving 
Persia finally behind us. Acting later in the Caucasus, 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 27 

a thorough knowledge of the Persian situation would 
be indispensable, and it was a great advantage to have 
had the experienced opinions of this Minister. 

Kasvin itself did not seem to welcome us at all. In 
Hamadan there had been a few smiles among the crowd, 
but as we entered this city we got only scowls ; the 
populace, however, instead of resorting to violence, 
contented themselves with holding anti-British meetings 
in the mosques, and passing fierce resolutions. Our party 
of twelve officers, two clerks and forty-one drivers was 
certainly not strong. But the forty-one cars gave quite 
a false impression of strength, and we also had now with 
us as escort the armoured car under Lieutenant Singer 
that had preceded us to Hamadan. It is probable that 
but for the armoured car the resolutions might have 
ended in action, although this would have involved the 
breaking of a well-established rule. 

At Kasvin we learnt that further progress was im- 
possible. Mirza Kuchik Khan, the leader of the Gilanis 
whose district we were about to enter, had vowed not 
to let the British through, and his Committee were work- 
ing at Enzeli in conjunction with the Bolshevik Com- 
mittee, who were equally determined not to allow our 
passage. Still, so many of these granite difficulties 
had up till now turned out tissue-paper, that it was 
obviously necessary to see if this last " impossible " 
could not be managed. Arrangements were accordingly 
made for an early start on the following morning. 

A short description of the " Jangali " or " Gilan '* 
movement is now necessary. 

The Elburz Mountains, the highest peak of which, 
Demavend, near Teheran, ascends to over 18,000 feet 
above sea-level, form a wall separating the Persian plateau 
from the Caspian Sea. The watershed lies about 50 
miles from the shore, to which the spurs gradually descend 
through thick and beautiful forest. The country com- 



u 



28 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

prised in this area is divided into two provinces, Mazan- 
deran composing the eastern half and Gilan the western. 
Through the latter country runs the road connecting 
Persia via the Caspian with Europe. Resht, the capital 
of Gilan, lies on this road about 20 miles from the Enzeli- 
Kazian port, whose double name requires explanation. 
The harbour is formed by two long sandspits running 
from east and west like the jaws of a huge pair of 
pincers, enclosing a large shallow lake. On the western 
spit lies the old Persian town of Enzeli, on the eastern 
spit the new Russian town of Kazian, built by the Russian 
Road Company in connection with their valuable trade 
concessions. Only a few hundred yards of water separ- 
ate the two towns, and while the wharves lie almost 
entirely on the Kazian side, the merchants' residences, 
the banks and all the hotels lie on the Enzeli side, where 
all business is transacted. 

The inhabitants of Gilan are spoken of as " Jangalis " 
for no other reason than that they live in a forest country 
or jungle. It is a misleading term, as it is apt to convey 
the idea of something wild and fierce and uncivilized, 
and the Gilani is none of these things. 

The so-called ** Jangali " movement was started by 
a well-known revolutionary of the name of Mirza 
Kuchik Khan, an honest, well-meaning idealist. His 
programme includes all the wearisome platitudes that 
ring the changes on the will-o'-the-wisp ideals of liberty, 
equality and fraternity. '' Persia for the Persians " 
and " Away with the foreigners " are other obvious items, 
a further enumeration of which is not necessary in view 
of the fact that they are all obvious, all fallacious and 
the world is already tired of them all. 

The next scene in the play is also an unvarying one 
in such dramas. Kuchik Khan appoints a Committee 
to assist in the control of affairs, and from that date 
the Committee run Kuchik, who thinks he still leads, 



A PLEASURE TRIP ON RECONNAISSANCE 2d 

while being merely pushed. And do the Committee 
really lead, or are they also being a little pushed ? The 
answer to this question is one which affords point where 
we find the solution to many such problems — German 
and Turkish agents and propaganda. Kuchik's troops 
are led by a German officer, von Passchen, and are drilled 
by Austrian instructors. Turkish machine-guns and 
ammunition form a large part of the material of his 
army. So we have first the leader Kuchik Khan, not 
very intelligent, but a high-minded enthusiast. Pushing 
the leader we have the Committee, each member of which 
has private ends to seek. Pushing the Committee we 
have on one side Germany with promises of pecuniary 
gain, and on the other Turkey with spiritual appeals 
to religious fanaticism and a machine-gun or two. What 
a thing it is to be a leader ! Now the attitude of 
these Gilanis towards the Russians may be explained. 
The general feeling of the North Persians towards the 
Russians may be described politely as one of extreme 
dislike ; but with the advent of the revolution, the pro- 
claiming of the fraternity business and the withdrawal 
of the troops, the dislike is temporarily put on one side. 
Kuchik Khan is only too glad to see the Russians leaving 
Persia (as he hopes for ever) by the road that passes 
through Gilan. This enables him to buy huge stocks 
of rifles and ammunition at very low prices. So their 
passage is in every way facilitated, and a combined Com- 
mittee of Bolsheviks and Jangalis run the port of Enzeli, 
united in the common desire to thwart the British: the 
Bolsheviks chiefly because they imagine that the British 
are out to prolong the war, the Jangali because, having 
at last thrown off the Russian burden, they fear lest the 
British take their place and lest their conception of 
** Persia for the Persians " be once more indefinitely de- 
ferred; and both of them because they are the victims 
(mostly unknowingly) of subtle propaganda. 



80 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Mirza Kuchik Khan claims to have 5,000 troops, and 
he probably has that number of armed men. What 
numbers he can induce to take the field, and what will 
be their fighting value, are questions that later events 
will answer. 



I 



CHAPTER in 
THE SEA! THE SEA! 

AS our convoy passed out of the Resht gate of Kasvin 
at daybreak on February 16th, the hearts of all 
were elated at the thought that by to-morrow night 
the last obstacles would have been surmounted and 
the party embarked on the Caspian, heading for Baku. 
There were not really any serious grounds for believing 
that we should get through. On the contrary, the hind- 
rances loomed larger than ever. But our party contained 
no pessimists, and we felt confident that whatever diffi- 
culties arose would be overcome. 

Since leaving Hamadan the whole road had been 
blocked with Russian troops evacuating in disorder; 
Kasvin was filled with them, and though mostly friendly 
in a general sort of way they were obviously going to be 
a nuisance on the road. 

The weather at any rate was in our favour ; no snow 
fell, and we crossed the last high pass near Buinak, 
30 miles from Kasvin, without difficulty. Here, as 
on the Sultan Bulaq Pass, the retiring Russians had 
cut a first-rate road through the snowdrifts. 

From Buinak to Menjil, 40 miles, the road winds 
down a rather desolate valley, crossing the streams occa- 
sionally by well-built bridges, and finally emerging on to 
the small open plain of Menjil, on which some fine clumps 
of very old olive-trees help to vary the monotony of the 

3X 



32 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

landscape. Our halt for the night was arranged for in 
the little post-house belonging to the Russian Road 
Company, where large advertisement boards of the 
" Grand Hotel " in Teheran with *' Cuisine Fran9aise " 
made our " bully stew " taste less luscious than 
usual. 

The only impediment on the road had been the Russian 
troops, whose transport consisted chiefly of the enormous 
Persian country carts with four horses harnessed abreast, 
not an easy vehicle to get by on a narrow mountain road. 
The troops themselves were cheerful, and showed no signs 
of making themselves unpleasant to us. Life for the 
time being was very pleasant for them, and as all men 
are brothers they wished it to be pleasant for others as 
well. The principles of freedom and fraternity were 
applied with great zeal to poultry and other unconsidered 
trifles that lay not too far from the roadside, and the 
tedium of the march was relieved by shooting the insula- 
tors off the telegraph poles, or testing marksmanship for 
a small bet on heedless crows. No formation was kept, 
except occasionally among the mounted troops. Parties 
pottered along in twos and threes or larger bunches, and 
now and then a tired soldier would beg for a lift, or try 
to get one without begging by jumping on to the back of 
one of the vans, an athletic feat that was generally beyond 
his powers. 

At the serai, where we went with a special permit to 
draw petrol for to-morrow's journey, we were surrounded 
by a crowd of soldiers, and enjoyed some rather amusing 
and instructive conversation. The soldiers wanted to 
know where we were going. I replied, "To Enzeli.'* 
** And then ? " " That depends on circumstances, we 
want to help you who are our allies." The invariable 
reply to this was " We are not your allies ; we have made 
peace with Germany, and you only want to prolong the 
war." This was the parrot-like refrain that never varied 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 33 

and had evidently been carefully taught to the men by 
some ardent propagandist. 

Asked as to their political ideas, the general replies 
may be reproduced somewhat as follows : " We have had 
a revolution because we were ill-treated and oppressed. 
Now we are free, but ignorant and uneducated. We 
don't know how to rule ourselves. Everything is in 
disorder. I am a Bolshevik, but I don't know what Bol- 
shevism means, as I cannot read or write ; I just accept 
what the last speaker says. I want to be left alone and 
helped home, and as the Committee in Kazian is Bolshevik, 
I am too. If it were anything else I would be that." 

Great curiosity was evinced as to the real reason for 
our presence in their midst, and the general consensus 
of opinion was that we were up to no good. The peasant 
mind is naturally suspicious, that of the Russian peasant 
especially so, and the guileless Englishman has an unfortu- 
nate reputation in Russia of being very cunning ; so our 
party was regarded with mixed feelings of suspicion and 
dislike tempered with good-natured tolerance. 

Menjil lies at the head of the fifty- mile valley that runs 
down to the Caspian Sea through Resht, and the narrow 
gap in the hills, through which the Sefid Rud, or White 
River — ^generally red, by the way — flows down to the 
sea, acts as a funnel for the north wind that blows in 
a perpetual hurricane throughout the summer and has 
made Menjil infamous as an intolerable place of residence. 
Luckily this wind does not blow during the winter months, 
or we should have had a miserable time. We had scant 
leisure for exploring the neighbourhood: darkness soon 
came on, and we were only too glad of an excuse for 
turning in early and getting a good night's rest before 
embarking on to-morrow's adventures. 

The next day, Sunday, February 17th, we were off 
at dawn in fine weather for the last and most critical 
stage of our journey, with the pleasant prospect of cross- 

4 



34 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

ing the Caspian Sea on the following morning if the fates 
were good to us. But we were beginning to realize that the 
fates would have to be extraordinarily good to bring it ofF. 

The beautiful 70 miles of road from Menjil to the 
sea have been described by every traveller, and I am 
obliged to add my modest contribution. Leaving the 
post-house, the road winds downwards with a gentle 
slope for about IJ miles to the Menjil Bridge, where the 
Sefid Rud is crossed and the final descent to the sea 
begins. The bridge is well built of stone and iron, 
and lies in a sharp V-shaped gap in the hills where the 
road turns due north. After crossing the river the road 
winds along the left bank for the next 40 miles, when 
the flat country is reached. From here it diverges slightly 
to the left, reaching Resht at about the fifty-second 
mile and Enzeli at the seventieth. 

On entering the gorge immediately beyond the Menjil 
bridge, the thoughts of the soldier are inevitably drawn 
to the terrible natural difficulties confronting any army 
that might endeavour to force this defile against a deter- 
mined enemy. The road is cut out of the rock in many 
places ; the cliffs tower above on the left, while on the 
right there is a sheer drop to the roaring torrent of 
the Sefid Rud, impassable at all times of the year. 
The rocky spurs and sharp ravines on the right bank 
of the river give excellent cover to an enemy for 
sniping the troops on the read, and any attempt to 
advance would obviously entail a parallel movement 
on both sides of the river. 

So far, although the traveller feels most distinctly 
that he has left Persia behind and has entered an entirely 
new country, the real forest has not begun. The lower 
hills are still barren but not entirely devoid of trees; 
large groves of olives line the road and fill all the hollows 
on the mountain side, while higher up a glimpse can be 
caught of the upper forests of pine and oak. 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 35 

The real forest is not entered till the twentieth mile 
from Menjil, where the Russian toll-gate of Nagober is 
passed and the road plunges into thick woods with dense 
undergrowth. Here we feel that we have not only left 
Persia but Asia behind, when we stop for repairs beside 
a mossy bank on which j)rimroses and cyclamen are just 
coming out, and farther down the road we find banks of 
violets and snowdrops. The trees are not in leaf, with 
the exception of a few evergreens, and it is hard to identify 
them in a rapid glance from a motor-car, but chestnut 
and a tree resembling a beech are the most noticeable, 
while the undergrowth is chiefly composed of box. 

At Imamzadeh Hashim, about 40 miles from Menjil, 
the hills abruptly cease, and from here on to Enzeli the 
road runs on the level, at first through alternate forests 
and rice-fields and later, as Enzeli is approached, through 
pasture land and sand dunes. 

It was hardly to be hoped for that we should be allowed 
by the fierce Kuchik Khan, after all his threats, to pass 
through the Menjil defile unopposed, and it was necessary 
to arrange the convoy so that at the first sign of opposi- 
tion all possible fire should be brought to bear on the enemy. 
Our only chance would lie in acting with determination 
and rapidity. But at the same time we were handi- 
capped by having to leave the firing of the first shot to 
the Jangalis, as until that shot was fired it might be 
possible to bluff our way through. And bluffing is far 
better than fighting when you have very little to fight 
with. 

The armoured car under Lieutenant Singer led the 
way. Captain Hooper with the Lewis-gun was well up in 
front, and each driver had his rifle and a hundred rounds 
ready to his hand. Frequent halts were made to ensure 
the cars being all kept together. 

Through the forest belt we encountered no signs of 
opposition at all, but as we neared Resht we passed 



36 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

here and there fierce-looking and heavily- armed warriors. 
With successive bandoliers of cartridges arranged round 
their bodies so as to form a very showy waistcoat, Mauser 
pistol on waistbelt and rifle in hand, these soldiers really 
looked as if they meant business. But Persia is a land 
where most things are done by " looks," and any attempt 
to ensure military success by other means need not be 
tried till that method has failed. 

At Resht we halted for half an hour to meet on the 
roadside the British Consul, Mr. Maclaren, and his Russian 
confrere, M. Grigorievitch. The former, together with 
Mr. Oakshot, of the Imperial Bank of Persia, bravely 
keeps the British flag flying under most adverse circum- 
stances. After Kuchik Khan's recent announcement 
of his feeling towards the British, it required some nerve 
to continue to reside in the Jangali capital. As a matter 
of fact both were shortly afterwards taken prisoners, 
and suffered very much at the hands of the Gilanis before 
effecting their escape. 

After a short and useful conversation with them the 
cars again moved off, passing through Resht undaunted 
by more scowls from more desperadoes, and covering 
the remaining 20 miles to Enzeli in good time and 
without incident, puzzling our brains to guess why after 
such fierce threats we had been allowed to come through 
unscathed. 

It was about an hour before sunset that the proximity 
of the sea was announced by the sand dunes, a moment 
later — Ba\a(T(ra ! QaXaacra ! — the blue waters of the 
Caspian became visible in the distance, and we were 
soon in the outskirts of the Kazian settlement. 

Now we had to see how the Bolsheviks and other brands 
of revolutionaries would receive us. Curiosity was much 
more evident than hostility, in fact there never was much 
of the latter except from the Bolshevik officials (numerous 
enough) and a small proportion of really anti-British 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 37 

agitators. The attitude would therefore be as dictated 
by the officials, and it remained to be seen what their 
attitude would be. There were at this time about 2,000 
Russian disbanded troops in the town, and as we drew up 
in front of the Persian Customs House the whole 2,000 
flocked round, eager with curiosity and betraying no sign 
of hostility. 

In Persia the Customs are entirely run by Belgian 
officials, and we were given a most hearty welcome by 
M. Hunin, who, with his wife and children, occupies the 
spacious building here provided for the head of the 
Customs. 

The arrangements which had been made for our 
reception were as follows. I was to have the honour of 
living with the Hunins, the cars were to be parked inside 
the Customs yard, the drivers were to be accommodated 
in a Customs shed close by, and the officers in a very com- 
fortable building in the Fishery Depot about a mile away. 

More unsuitable arrangements could not be imagined. 
Hitherto at every halt we had all lived together with our 
cars in our midst, officers and men sharing the same 
quarters and the same bully-beef stew prepared by our 
indefatigable and cheery cook. Private Pike of the A.S.C. 
Under such circumstances, whatever happened we could 
give a good account of ourselves, but scattered all over 
Kazian as we now were we could hardly do our best 
in the event of a row. 

But at this late hour to set out, followed by a gaping 
crowd of Bolsheviks, to make other arrangements was 
not to be thought of, and I had to accept matters as they 
were and take certain measures to bring things together 
in the event of a crisis. The only thing that I had absolutely 
to decline was the extremely kind personal invitation for 
myself, and I threw in my lot with the other officers in 
the Fishery Depot. It was sad to think that any mind 
could conceive arrangements based solely on comfort, 



38 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

the last thing we desired. All we wanted was safety and 
strength. 

I could not, however, be so churlish as to refuse 
the warm invitation for myself and a Staff Officer to dine 
with the Hunins, which was therefore duly accepted. 

The cars were soon stowed away inside the courtyard, 
but as many of the crowd as could squeeze in were inside 
as well. 

How to get them out ? 

The conversational method appeared to be the easiest, 
so Captain Saunders and myself commenced haranguing 
the men, who were deeply interested in our remarks and 
flocked around to listen. The topics were simple. We 
talked of the latest war news, we agreed that liberty was 
a fine thing and admitted that all men were comrades ; 
in the British Army, at any rate, officers and men had 
always regarded each other as comrades. 

On their side questions were asked as to uniform ; 
was the Staff badge worn on his cap by Captain Saunders 
(a crown surmounted by a lion) meant to be the badge of 
the Persian lion ? As to the war, when would it end ? 
For Russia it had already done so. Thus pleasantly 
conversing we gradually approached the door, passed 
through the archway and into the open space, the crowd 
following us as if I was the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Then, 
during a continuance of the discussion, the doors were 
quietly closed and a sentry posted. 

It was now possible to move down to the wharves and 
see what ships would suit us, but we were not able to do 
more than make a note of their names and a rough estimate 
of capacity, as we were followed at every step by a gigantic 
crowd that listened to every word and rather hampered 
our movements. The first thing to be done, therefore, 
was to shake off the crowd, which we eventually succeeded 
in doing, getting our men into their shed and installing 
ourselves in the Fisheries house. Here we occupied 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 89 

ourselves with toilet arrangements, during which a crowd, 
hostile this time, assembled in the open space before the 
house and began to look rather ugly. Before, however, 
we could take steps to deal with these people some one in 
authority evidently gave the word " not yet," and the 
mob gradually dispersed. 

After devising secret methods of ascertaining shipping 
facilities, and setting on foot inquiries regarding the 
local situation, we prepared to set forth for our most 
ill-timed dinner-party. At this moment an unkempt 
individual appeared with an important-looking note from 
the " Revolutionary District Soviet. The Military Revolu- 
tionary Committee of the East Persian [sic] Circle of the 
Caucasus Front." The note that followed this grandiose 
and unabbreviated title was curtly worded as follows : 
" The Committee desire your attendance at an extra- 
ordinary meeting of the Committee to explain the arrival 
of the motor-cars and the mission." No time was 
mentioned, and it was obvious that if I had dinner first 
I should have time to think. So we decided just to carry 
on with the dinner and see what would happen. 

The dinner was certainly excellent, and we were doing 
thorough justice to it when the sound of heavy boots was 
heard in the hall outside and the Persian servant hurried 
in in great agitation to announce that the Revolutionary 
Committee had arrived in the house, demanding to see 
the British General. I reassured my hostess, who was 
horror-stricken at the invasion, and left the roon at once 
to meet the visitors, of whom I expected at least half 
a dozen. As I entered the sitting-room I was rather 
surprised to find only two representatives. Comrade 
Cheliapin, formerly a clerk in a shipping office and now 
President of the Enzeli Bolshevik Committee, and a 
swarthy sailor in uniform. 

I at once shook hands warmly and begged them to be 
seated, when the following conversation took place: 



40 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

** May I ask what I can do for you ? '* 

" We sent you a note that you were to attend a 
Committee meeting to explain your arrival here and to 
answer other questions. Did you not get the note ? " 

*' I got the note, but as it contained no mention of 
time I was waiting for a more precise invitation." 

** We desire you to come with us now and make the 
necessary explanations to the Committee who are waiting 
for you." 

" The Committee must be very tired, as I am, after 
the day's work, and I suggest that if you could assemble 
at 11 a.m. to-morrow we could talk over all matters 
pleasantly and at length. Meantime I may tell you 
briefly that we are animated only by feelings of 
friendship for Russia, and have no ideas of setting up 
any counter-revolutionary movement." 

After this I expressed my surprise and pain at their 
general attitude. I had expected a warm greeting from 
them, and felt sure that to-morrow I could at least count 
on their fullest assistance in all matters. I was only too 
anxious to explain, as I knew that their ideas and mine 
would probably coincide on all points. I thanked them 
very warmly for taking the trouble to come and see me, 
and after smoking a cigarette and exchanging further 
complimentary remarks (not quite an exchange, as the 
compliments were mostly on my side) we shook hands 
once more and parted with the usual Russian expressions 
of politeness. 

I was anxious to defer any meeting with the Committee 
till we had learnt something of local conditions, and until 
I had heard the result of the inquiries now on foot as 
to shipping facilities. It was very necessary for me to 
learn the situation before entering into any discussion. 
With full knowledge of conditions on their side, and 
complete ignorance on mine, any controversy would be 
a very one-sided affair. 



I 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 41 

I was now able to return to the dining-room and relieve 
the anxiety of Madame Hunin, who had expected to see 
me dragged ofiE to instant execution. Dinner was soon 
finished, and after an excellent cigar we made our 
apologies and withdrew. The night was young and there 
was a good deal to be thought of before turning in 
to rest. 

First of all the shipping reports came in. Two ships 
were available and willing ; but no ships were privately 
owned, all were " nationalized " and entirely in the con- 
trol of the Bolshevik Government. Any idea therefore 
of getting on board in the dark and making a run for it 
was out of the question. Next as to accommodation on 
board. The ordinary steamer would take from 100 to 
500 men, but none could take more than ten cars. There- 
fore if we endeavoured to slip away in one steamer we 
should have to leave thirty-one cars behind, a fact which 
alone sufficed to negative any scheme of stealthy 
departure. 

Other items of intelligence were also not very 
encouraging, and it appeared likely that we should be 
faced with the problem of being unable to go forward 
and equally unable to go back. 

Our house was watched from every corner by sentries 
concealed, to stop or give notice of any suspicious move- 
ments on our part. These sentries were posted each 
night during our stay in Enzeli. 

To-morrow we would see what the day would bring 
forth, and I had reasonable hopes that the Committee 
would fall in with our ideas. I still feel certain that 
they would have done so if left to themselves, but 
with Kuchik Khan's emissaries at their elbows, and 
German agents in their midst, it is not surprising that 
they were led into a hostile attitude. 

Rain had begun last night, and we woke on February 
18th to find a dull, drizzly morning, with the landscape 



42 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

entirely enveloped in mist. We were soon astir and 
about our various tasks. Our movements in the town 
still attracted some attention, and apart from the curious 
crowd there was of course always a reporter from the 
Committee dogging our footsteps. It was therefore 
difficult to accomplish much by direct inquiry, and we 
had to rely chiefly on secret agents, of whom we had one 
or two who were sincerely acting on our behalf, but 
whose reports were frequently incorrect or exaggerated. 

At 11 a.m. Captain Saunders and myself duly presented 
ourselves at the small building where the Committee 
held its meetings. Happy soldiers in full enjoyment of 
the delights of freedom lounged round the entrance. The 
delights of freedom were chiefly indicated by the bestowal 
of silly smiles instead of salutes, the neglect of ablutions, 
unbuttoned uniforms and dirty belts and rifles. Passing 
up the wooden steps we entered a crowded ante-chamber, 
where more soldiers and sailors smoked and talked and 
indolently regarded the new-comers. In a short time the 
door of the inner room opened and Comrade Cheliapin 
advanced with outstretched hand and an official frown 
that fitted the seriousness of the occasion. Hands were 
solemnly shaken in token of equality, and our leader 
ushered us into the adjoining room, where we found 
ourselves in the presence of the redoubtable Committee. 

The twelve individuals composing the Committee 
were seated at a long table that almost filled the room, 
and each had before him in the most correct manner 
paper, pens and ink, to show that he could write if called 
upon to do so. There was no general rising on our entry 
into the room, but each rose or half rose as we exchanged 
the usual hand-grips, and on the whole we received 
a welcome that showed a general desire to be polite 
while remaining severely formal. The members were 
all young men, mostly soldiers and sailors in uniform, 
and those who wore tunics buttoning up to the neck 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 48 

left the collars undone, as a further sign of their recently 
won freedom. Throughout the entire period of my 
relations with revolutionaries I noticed this distinguishing 
sign of the unbuttoned collar : To look the part of a 
revolutionary, grow your hair long, refrain from brushing 
it and leave your collar undone, or if in mufti wear an 
open turned-down collar cut as low as a lady's dinner 
frock, and the disguise is complete. 

The flouting of the greybeard is also a revolutionary 
sign. The absence of the men of experience from among 
revolutionary officials leads to many false moves that 
wiser heads would have avoided ; but youth will have its 
fling, and in all ages and in all civilizations there is always 
a permanent undercurrent of revolution on the part of the 
young men who know everything, against the older men 
who are considered out-of-date and incapable of under- 
standing their brilliant schemes of reform. But it is 
good to be young, and the effervescence of youth is 
possibly of some small value in the general scheme 
of life. 

I was not able to say all this to the Enzeli Com- 
mittee, though I should have liked to have done so. 
Time pressed and I was anxious to get through with 
the business. 

It was known in the town that Kuchik Khan's 
Persian Committee were urging the Russian Committee to 
arrest us, while the Bolsheviks were anxious to throw the 
onus on the Persians. There was no reason why either side 
should hesitate, but there is a good deal of prestige about 
the British flag, and neither party so far cared to put our 
strength to the test. There was moreover the armoured 
car, which looked as if it would account for a good many 
of the attackers if an attempt was made to take it. Still, 
there was the prospect of our own arrest, as Captain 
Saunders and myself were entirely in their hands, and to 
make us realize the serious nature of our predicament an 



44 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

armed guard surrounded our chairs. This guard soon 
grew tired, and when they concluded that their presence 
was not producing any great impression on us, they sat 
down on benches round the room and made themselves 
comfortable. 

We were accommodated with seats at the table, and 
the discussion opened with a short speech by Cheliapin, 
in which he informed the Committee that the English 
General had been invited to attend this meeting to explain 
the reason of his sudden descent into their midst, and to 
answer questions generally as to the future intentions of 
his party. 

In reply I stated briefly that I was astonished at 
their attitude, that we had come solely to help them 
and were pained at the very poor welcome we had 
received. 

It was necessary for me to be very careful in my replies 
to the volley of questions that now ensued, each member 
determined to justify his existence by taking a part in 
the cross-examination. My desire was naturally to adhere 
strictly to the truth, not always an easy task when one 
is in possession of State secrets, and very difficult in this 
case where the entire object of the mission had been 
kept a very close secret, and where it would be unwise to 
avow all the details of our plans before a hostile assembly 
such as that before which we were undergoing cross- 
examination. 

This difficulty was at once removed by the kind Presi- 
dent, who informed me that he knew all about our plans 
for going to Tiflis and helping the Georgians and Armenians 
to continue the fight. He was too anxious to show me 
how hopeless our case was when he knew so much, but he 
could have used his knowledge as a much better weapon 
had he waited till he had succeeded in getting false replies 
from me and then produced his bombshell. 

It appears that the Bolsheviks had full information 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 45 

from the Tiflis side of the objects of the mission, and of 
the date of our probable arrival at Enzeli, and they had 
peremptory orders (at German instigation) to stop us at 
all costs. 

The result of the meeting may be summed up as 
follows: The Committee stated that Russia was no 
longer our Ally. Russia had made peace with the 
Germans, Turks and Austrians, and among all nations 
mistrusted only Great Britain, as a symbol of Imperialism, 
and the Tiflis people whom we proposed to help, as being 
anti-Bolshevik. 

At Enzeli they possessed the telegraph and telephone 
line, the wireless apparatus and the petrol supply. All 
shipping was in their hands, and a gunboat lay ready to 
open fire on any ship endeavouring to leave the port 
without their permission. They forbade any endeavour 
on our part to reach Baku. Baku was under the Bol- 
shevik Government, and had already been informed of 
our arrival by wireless, and had replied that the party was 
to be stopped at all costs. For Russia the war was over, 
and they objected to a mission whose avowed intention 
was to prolong the war. 

On my side I protested that our only object was to 
help Russia, without taking notice of political parties, 
that I should in spite of their threats carry on with 
arrangements to proceed to Baku, that we had sufficient 
machine-guns to enable us to overcome any resistance, 
and that we did not recognize the right of the Bolshevik 
Government to imp*^'^'^ our movements. 

I expected that the announcement of this determina- 
tion would lead to our arrest, but while some members 
were doubtless in favour of this, there was lack of unani- 
mity, of which I took advantage, and rising with the 
usual expressions of leave-taking Captain Saunders and 
myself walked out of the room without interference. 

The rest of the day was spent in feeling our way as 



46 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

regards shipping facilities and calculating chances. A 
visit to the wharf left us rather hopeless. All steamers 
were strongly guarded, and out in the stream lay 
the vicious-looking gunboat with guns prepared for 
action. 

With the Bolsheviks and Jangalis around us, Bolsheviks 
ahead of us and Kuchik Khan waiting for us on the road 
behind, it was not easy to see one's way through, either 
forward or backward. One thing only was certain, 
that the longer we delayed the smaller would be our 
chances of escape. Yet I felt it necessary to hold on for 
at least forty-eight hours in the hopes of something 
turning up. What I really looked for was some sign of 
assistance from our friends on the other shore, some 
indication that if we got as far as Baku we might count 
on at least a few helpers. There were people over there 
who were undoubtedly looking forward to our arrival — 
the Armenians especially — and surely they would be 
sending emissaries to suggest some plan and help us 
through. 

But the hours passed by and there were no signs of 
any such helpers, and it was obviously useless to hope 
for anything from this source. My later experience 
has taught me that these people are glad enough to ask 
for help, but having asked they sit with folded hands, 
and when help arrives they welcome you warmly and say, 
" Now we give you a free hand, just carry on and we 
will sit and watch how well you H . it ! " This is exactly 
what happened when we eventually reached Baku about 
six months later. 

I sat up most of the night weighing the intelligence 
that had been collected during the day, and balancing 
the pros and cons of each possible solution. 

We might face the situation, seize a steamer and risk 
the gunboat. I knew a method that seldom fails of 
stopping the fire of the latter. I considered that there 



^ 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 47 

was almost a sufficient prospect of success in this scheme 
to justify its attempt, but it was negatived by the fact 
that as the steamer could only take at the most ten cars, 
thirty-one would have to be left behind to fall into the 
hands of the Bolsheviks, and my party would receive 
a warm reception from the Bolsheviks of Baku, informed 
by wireless of our impending arrival. Finally, at the 
very best, we should be landed in the Caucasus, leaving 
the road by which we hoped the remainder of the party 
would arrive in the hands of a very irritated enemy, 
who would see to it that no further parties got through. 
Under such circumstances our position in Baku or Tiflis 
would be ridiculous. 

Colonel Pike was at Tiflis as Military Agent and was 
anxiously awaiting our arrival, but it was impossible 
to expect that he could do anything to help us, his own 
position being fairly desperate until we could get through 
to him. Captain Goldsmith would also now be with him, 
but was out of touch with us, owing to the impossibility 
of communication. 

The next plan to consider was the possibility of our 
remaining in Enzeli, establishing friendly relations with 
the local Government and wheedling them into a better 
attitude. The risks of this plan were too great. The 
combined hostility of the Persians and the Bolsheviks 
would certainly burst into flame, and one or other would 
at last pluck up the courage to put our strength to the 
test, and find that the strength was all weakness. More- 
over, the rumour that we had large stores of gold with 
us made such an effort all the more tempting. 

Comrade Cheliapin himself proposed another plan, 
that we should officially recognize in writing the Bolshevik 
Government (our non-recognition being the chief cause 
of their hostility) and proceed to Baku under Bolshevik 
auspices, leaving our further movements to be directed 
by the Bolsheviks. This meant, in fact, becoming 



48 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Bolsheviks. He offered to wire to Baku in these terms, 
but did not anticipate agreement. 

I had no particular objection to becoming a Bolshevik, 
but to take up the Bolshevik programme of non-resistance 
to the invader would be rather far away from my orders. 
Cheliapin also suggested that the Tiflis business was a 
played-out game, and if we threw in our lot with the 
Bolsheviks we would be much more useful in the Moscow 
direction. And he said all this without a smile ! 

The upshot of my midnight deliberations was a decision 
to get out of Enzeli while there was time, run the gauntlet 
of Kuchik Khan on the Resht road and get back to Persia, 
call up my second party and watch for a favourable 
opportunity to renew the attempt. 

There is a telephone line all along the road from Enzeli, 
with Persian operators, and I could hardly hope to get 
through to Menjil without my movement being notified, 
but we should just have to take our chance of that. 

In accordance with this decision I sent a message to 
the Revolutionary Committee early on the morning of 
the 19th, asking them to assemble at 11 a.m. and to 
allow me to address certain remarks to them. 

At the appointed hour I arrived at the Committee 
room with Captain Saunders, and we were ushered in with 
the same ceremony as before. The only difference on 
this occasion was that the smiles were now frowns, and 
the intimidating guard was largely increased in numbers 
and looked most impressive. 

I opened the discussion by stating that I wished to 
know finally whether the Committee had changed their 
minds and were willing to give us all the assistance in 
their power, or whether they adhered to their former 
ill-advised decision to thwart us. The answer was a 
quite unanimous one in favour of the latter proposition. 

I then asked to be allowed to speak to Cheliapin alone, 
which request being granted I withdrew with him into a 



THE SEA! THE SEA! 49 

separate apartment, where we were as much alone as 
revolutionaries are ever allowed to be. *' Trust no one '* 
is the sound motto of all revolutions. 

I informed him that I regretted I was quite unable 
to accept the Bolshevik proposition, that I was undesirous 
of bloodshed, which would be the natural result of any 
effort on his part to thwart our forward movement, that 
I was quite convinced by his eloquence, and consequently 
decided to withdraw my party. I congratulated him 
warmly on the very admirable manner in which his 
government of the town was conducted, and made him 
feel that I regarded him as a peer among men. I then 
begged for and got a signed order for all the petrol I 
required and, after requesting the Committee to keep 
my intended departure a secret, I withdrew from the 
assembly. 

In paying such compliments as I did to Comrade 
Cheliapin, I was not altogether romancing. I could 
sympathize with the difficulty of his position, the endeavour 
to carry on the business of government with no experience 
and little education, and I wish to record here the fact 
that I consider he did extremely well in maintaining a 
semblance of law and order amid the chaos of a revolution. 
Anyway, I shall always be grateful to him for the petrol. 

In spite of my request for secrecy the news of our 
intended departure was beginning to leak out, as of 
course I knew it would, and it would be a very good thing 
to get through Resht before Kuchik Khan had time to 
digest and act upon the telephone message he was probably 
now receiving. I accordingly gave orders for a very early 
start on the morrow, and after an excellent meal at which 
bully beef was quite put in the shade by fresh fish and 
caviare, we turned in for the night. 



CHAPTER IV 
WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 

ALL people are apt to change their minds, revolu- 
tionaries especially. The night of February 19th 
was therefore a very anxious one, as, although Cheliapin 
had agreed to our departure and supplied the petrol, 
there would be many who would think it a pity to let 
the Englishmen get away with all those bags of gold they 
had, and the amount of gold had doubtless been greatly 
exaggerated. Hence I decided on a very early start. 

Long before dawn on February 20th the cars were 
quietly got out and loaded up, and we were soon on the 
move ; when daylight came we were already some miles 
on the road to Menjil and ready for the second time to 
run the gauntlet through the Jangali country. The 
day was dull and rainy, and the cheerless weather corre- 
sponded to our mood, which without being despondent 
was certainly as cheerless as the sky. It was well to 
hope for a renewal of opportunity and a prospect of 
later success, but nothing could compensate for the fact 
that we had entirely failed to carry out the object with 
which we had set forth, and were turning back in our 
tracks. 

To-day a conflict with the Jangalis appeared certain ; 
it was not to be conceived that they would let us return 
through their country carrying that precious load of 
gold and silver, and we were prepared to encounter 

50 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 51 

opposition as we passed through Resht. But again no 
attempt was made, the scowls were fiercer and an 
occasional warrior significantly tapped the butt of his 
Mauser pistol, but we were not fired on. 

We had got accustomed to the playful Russian habit 
of firing at anything along the road, and keeping up a 
cheerful fusillade most of the night, as this had been the 
usual state of affairs ever since our arrival at Hamadan ; 
but it made it very hard for us to guess whether the sounds 
of firing we now heard ahead of us meant just the usual 
insulator and crow shooting, or whether business was 
really going to begin. 

A great deal depended on the cars, which had now run 
some 700 miles from Baghdad over poor roads and without 
proper overhauling ; however, they behaved splendidly 
and there were no serious breakdowns. A three hours' 
halt for repairs, such as we often had to endure later, 
would have brought about a most uncomfortable situation 
in the forest country. 

Menjil was reached at 5.30 p.m., and we rested again 
in the post-house with the tempting advertisements. 

At 6 a.m. on February 21st we started for Kasvin, 
but it was going to be a day of misfortune, and we only 
reached the town on the following day. The cars were 
getting tired, and breakdowns were frequent. A halt 
of two hours was necessary before we were out of sight 
of the village : this considerably shortened our day, 
but we trusted with luck to make up time and did very 
well till midday, when a second halt of three and a half 
hours removed all hope of reaching Kasvin that day. 

The weather was fine and there appeared to be no 
need to get over the pass to-day. The drivers were tired, 
and we could very well spend the night in the village of 
Bikandi on this side, and have quite a short run into 
Kasvin to-morrow. I was very much tempted to do this, 
but choice fortunately decided against it. We pushed 



52 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

on and crossed the pass at sunset, and two miles farther 
on found an excellent serai that held us all for the night. 

The same startling change took place in the weather 
at night as we had experienced at Asadabad. We woke 
to find the whole country buried in snow, and a first- 
class blizzard in full progress. Had we remained last 
night on the far side of the pass we might have been held 
up for a week. As it was, the distance to Kasvin was 
only 20 miles, and the road, when you could find it in 
the snow, was not bad. Driving was difficult with freezing 
hands and the glass screen obscured with clinging snow- 
flakes, but we got in by noon after an unadventurous 
journey, and were glad to be able to tuck ourselves into 
warm billets. 

The people of Kasvin had not looked as if they liked 
us when we passed through on our way down ; it was 
not likely therefore that they would be any more amiable 
now. It was certain that we would not have a very 
pleasant time in the town, and it would be too lively 
for our permanent resting place. For this reason I 
selected Hamadan, where we could occupy a good 
defensive position outside the town and on the higher 
ground, and whence communication with Baghdad would 
be facilitated through the Russian wireless station. 

Before proceeding to wind our way through the narrow 
and muddy roads of the town, I halted the convoy behind 
a vineyard near to the principal gate to enable them to 
close up and make a smart entry. At this moment we 
were greeted with a sudden outburst of rapid firing and 
the sound of bullets whizzing quite as near as an aimed 
Persian bullet would be likely to be. However, they 
proved to be not hostile but friendly bullets ; a large 
wagon filled with Russian soldiers came slowly round 
the corner through the snow, and the occupants were 
indulging with rather more than usual vigour in their 
favourite pastime of firing a feu de joie. 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 58 

We proceeded on our way through the town to the 
British Consulate, where Mr. Goodwin had again made 
all arrangements for the comfortable housing of officers 
and men. 

Our arrival had caused quite a stir in the town. 
Reports went round to the effect that Kuchik Khan had 
stopped us at Resht and allowed us to go back as an 
act of clemency, after relieving us of our cash and valuable 
stores. We were naturally regarded as a defeated party, 
and the determination to wipe us out was more vigorously 
made then ever. 

It must be remembered that at this time the whole 
of North Persia was full of arms and ammunition, and 
any mob that turned out would be a mob armed with 
Russian, Turkish and English rifles ; so if they could only 
screw up their pluck sufficiently to substitute action for 
talk we might anticipate a rather warm time. Meetings 
were held in the mosques, and inflammatory placards 
posted on the walls of the houses. 

The next day, February 23rd, was spent in Kasvin 
thoroughly overhauling the cars. It was most desirable 
to get on, but the cars were not up to it. During this 
day the proceedings of yesterday were repeated in a more 
marked way, and all the mob now required was a leader, 
which they luckily failed to find — plenty of talkers but 
a dearth of leaders. 

I was now able to send home by the Indo-European 
telegraph line which passes through Kasvin a report of 
the occurrences up to date. This had not been pos- 
sible at Enzeli, where there was only the Russian 
wireless station, which was naturally not placed at our 
disposal. 

I cabled to the effect that the mission had failed to 
get beyond Enzeli and were only enabled to withdraw 
from there by sheer good fortune ; that it would be useless 
to make any further attempt to reach Enzeli until we 



54 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

either fought or came to an agreement with Kuchik 
Khan. 

At Kasvin I received an official intimation from this 
leader that his troops had been ordered to attack the 
column if any attempt were made to repeat the experiment 
of passing through his country. We also became aware 
of a plot, the failure of which accounted for our not being 
molested on our previous journey. It appears that the 
Jangalis had determined to ambush the convoy on the 
road, but had feared lest the Russian troops marching 
in an endless procession down the road might throw in 
their lot with us and act as reinforcements. They had 
therefore addressed the Russian leaders on this point 
and begged from them a promise of non-interference. 
There is reason to believe that there was considerable 
delay in the Russian reply, which, however, in the end 
proved to be a refusal to give the required guarantee. 
Although according to their own point of view they were 
no longer our Allies, any other decision would have been 
disgraceful, and we must be grateful that even the 
revolutionary soldiers proved themselves to be " white 
men " in this matter and refused to be parties to such 
treachery. The Enzeli Committee were in favour of letting 
the Jangalis have their own way, but the troops on 
the road were against it. 

I had also the interesting news that a strong detach- 
ment of Red Guards from Baku had arrived at Enzeli 
the moment after our departure. This probably explains 
the effusive manner in which Cheliapin begged me to 
stay one more day as their guests, to enable a reply 
to be received to a certain message he had sent asking 
if we could possibly be allowed to proceed. 

The Red Guards were to do the work the Enzeli Com- 
mittee were afraid to undertake — the capture of the 
British mission. 

During February 23rd no outbreak occurred. The 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 56 

night was kept lively with perpetual firing, but it was 
only the usual expression of Russian joy, although it 
sounded as if a fierce battle were in progress. 

At 8 a.m. on the 24th our procession once more passed 
through the Kasvin streets with the formidable armoured 
car acting as rear-guard, and we were soon bowling along 
the really good road and enjoying a spell of fine weather. 
We reached Aveh at 4 p.m., and shared the small and 
dirty post-house with some Cossacks. On the following 
day we crossed the Sultan Bulaq Pass in deep snow, but 
as before, with a good road cut through the drifts, and 
reached Hamadan in the evening. 

Here we got the men into good billets on the premises 
of the American Mission, while for the officers we were 
able to secure two good bungalows in the vicinity. Colonel 
Duncan, Captain Dunning and myself were accommodated 
in the Bank House, which is alongside the mission com- 
pound. We were thus very suitably situated as regards 
defence — cars, men and officers in close proximity and 
ready to turn out at a moment's notice. 

The ancient town of Hamadan, or Ecbatana, the 
treasure city of the AchaBmenian kings, lies on the northern 
slopes of the Elvend range, the highest peak of which 
runs to 11,900 feet. The lower part of the town is 6,500 
feet above the sea, and the foreign settlement which I 
had chosen for our position lies at about 7,000 feet, which 
means something like an Arctic climate in winter. A 
better position could not be imagined ; the site is healthy 
and entirely overlooks the town, and water is plentiful 
from the streams that flow down from the mountain 
side, and which we were able to use without fear of 
pollution. 

The city itself is quite uninteresting, the houses being 
of the usual type in Persia and Northern India, the 
better kind well built of brick surrounded with mud walls, 
the poorer of sun-dried bricks. A few ancient domes 



56 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

with the remains of coloured tiles brighten the general 
dulness of the city ; these are either mosques or tombs, 
among the latter being those of Esther and Mordecai. 
On the east lies the big mound supposed to be the site 
of the ancient palace, of which no trace now remains. 
In fact, it would be hard to find any city with half the 
history of Hamadan possessing fewer relics of its bygone 
glories. It was taken and plundered by Alexander the 
Great and was the scene of some of his wildest orgies. 
Successive conquerors appear to have most effectually 
removed any trace of the wonderful buildings described, 
probably with much exaggeration, in ancient records. 
The solitary remnant of past glories is the stone lion 
which lies in the fields a few hundred yards from the 
north-eastern edge of the town, a piece of sculpture that 
possibly stood at one of the former entrances. This 
lion is now supposed to possess all sorts of magic 
qualities, and is much appealed to by those to whom 
male offspring has been denied or who suffer from some 
incurable disease. 

I should like to quote here a verse from a poem on 
Hamadan by Clinton Scqllard, which I copied from a 
book on travel in Persia in the possession of the American 
mission. 

Nought of all the radiant past, 

Nought of all the varied, v^ast 

Life that thrilled and throbbed remains 

With its pleasures and its pains. 

Save a couehant lion, lone 

Mute memorial in stone 

Of three Empires overthrown, 

Median, Persian, Parthian, 

Round the walls of Hamadan. 

A mountain stream flows through the centre of the town 
and helps to brighten the dull surroundings and simul- 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 57 

taneously to provide water and a drainage channel for 
the inhabitants. 

Hamadan is a place of considerable commercial im- 
portance, being noted among other things for leather 
manufactures and carpet weaving. The population is 
about 50,000, including a considerable proportion of 
Jews and Armenians. The people of the district are 
partly of Turkish origin, at least one half belonging to 
the Turkish Karaguzlu tribe, and Turki is more spoken 
in the villages than Persian. 

The town is surrounded by cultivation, and is very 
beautiful in the spring when the young wheat is coming 
up and the fruit-trees are in blossom. From our quarters 
we looked out over the plain which lies unbroken to the 
north for 50 miles as far as the Sultan Bulaq Pass. 

The site we had chosen was ideal from a military 
point of view. The Turks had equally selected it when 
here, and the house which was now my Head Quarters 
had a year ago been theirs. It is due to the Turks to 
say that very little damage had been done by them to 
the Bank House. 

The original plan having for the time being quite 
broken down, we needed to take our bearings and see 
what could still be done to thwart the Turk in these 
regions. 

The first obvious thing was that by remaining where 
we were, if we could hold out, we could interfere with 
the numerous Turkish and German agents who were at 
work in this part of Persia, while awaiting a change in 
the situation which might enable us to make another 
dash for the Caucasus. Meantime the Persian internal 
situation was very complicated and required watching. 
In any case, as snow now continued to fall almost daily, 
all passes were completely blocked and no move could 
be attempted ; we were quite cut off from Baghdad and 
nothing could possibly reach us. A Russian party with 



58 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

ammunition loaded on pack transport had lost six men 
and thirty animals frozen to death on the Asadabad Pass, 
which we had crossed a fortnight ago, and it was clear 
that we were in for a long spell of bad weather. 

I was able through the Russian wireless to com- 
municate with Baghdad and thence with London, and 
received instructions to remain where I was, to watch 
the Persian situation and to move forward if any 
possible chance occurred. 

The next thing to do was to consider if there were no 
other routes by which we could enter the Caucasus. The 
only other possible route was from Kasvin through Tabriz 
and Julfa, where we could get on to the railway to Tiflis. 
The distance from Kasvin to Tabriz is over 300 miles, 
the road is impassable for motors in winter and lies 
through the Shahsavan tribe with the Jangalis on our 
right flank. Balancing pros and cons, it did not seem in 
any way possible to attempt any movement by this road 
with any prospect of success. 

Troops were now urgently needed, as Persia was on 
the verge of very serious internal trouble, but as long as 
the Arctic winter remained it was not possible properly 
to equip and march men up the road by which we had 
come. So we had just to stay where we were and to 
carry through with blujBf. 

In the eyes of the Persians we always looked stronger 
than we were. The mere sight of the armoured car 
inspired awe, and the forty-one cars were probably each 
supposed to contain some fearful weapon. The forty- 
one drivers, too, looked most imposing, the Persians 
not being aware of the fact that their military training 
hardly extended beyond the technical knowledge of their 
motor vehicles. But these drivers deserve all the praise 
I can give them. With their two Sergeants, Harris and 
Watson, they performed marvels, and never grumbled 
under the most trying circumstances. 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 59 

The situation and the measures taken to meet it were 
as follows : 

The Persian Government were quite naturally sitting 
on the fence, and leaning rather towards the side of the 
Germans, whose propaganda and rose-coloured war news 
enchanted the Teheran people. Teheran was still neutral 
in practice as well as in theory. While the Turks and 
Russians had been freely using the Kasvin-Kermanshah 
road as a battle-ground, the sanctuary of Teheran remained 
undisturbed. Alongside of the British Legation the flags 
of the Turkish and German Legations floated proudly on 
the breeze, and the Turks had a free hand for propaganda 
and intrigue. The Germans, however, in spite of the 
laws of neutrality, did not seem to regard the Persian 
capital as a healthy place of residence, and though the 
flag flew over the building the Legation was actually 
closed. 

The Kuchik Khan movement was also in the ascend- 
ant. Our retirement was undoubtedly attributed to 
his action, and his prestige was duly enhanced. His 
reform programme recommended itself to all the serious 
democrats as well as the usual turbulent element that 
wants any change that brings disorder and prospects 
of loot. He had sympathizers in the Cabinet itself, 
Kasvin was full of his agents, as well as Hamadan and 
all other large towns. He was acclaimed as the saviour 
of Persia, who was going to turn the foreigners out and 
bring back the golden age. Added to all this was the 
fact that the spirit of Bolshevism was in the air, and j 

the microbe of revolution was spreading through all the / 

nations of the world : it was not likely that Persia would 
escape. One would have thought that the object-lesson 
provided by the Russian troops would have acted as a 
deterrent, but it apparently had the contrary effect. 

It was clear therefore that Kuchik Khan had only 
to display his banner, march on Kasvin and thence on 



60 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Teheran and establish a revolutionary Government in 
Persia. With all the leading officials, as well as the greater 
part of the populace on his side, success was certain if 
only he struck now. The time was ripe, but the weather 
was bad, and by the time he eventually decided to move 
we were able to checkmate him. Behind him he had 
the very strong propelling power of German and Turkish 
agents and the Mahomedan Committee of Union and 
Progress, and against him he had nothing, but he failed 
to snatch the opportune moment and Persia was saved. 
The interesting details of this movement will appear in 
a later chapter. 

My situation was affected by the movement to the 
extent that, if it were successful, we were obviously 
among the obnoxious foreigners who were to be got rid 
of, and the large number of sympathizers in the town of 
Hamadan ought to feel it their duty to show their sympathy 
by getting rid of us on the spot. But any plan for our 
direct removal was shelved as usual for the more exciting 
but less efficacious method of plot and intrigue, against 
which we were more proof than we were against bullets. 

The first step to ensure our own safety and to render 
services that should be very valuable to the Allied cause 
was to start a good intelligence system. This was at 
once inaugurated under Captain Saunders and achieved 
most valuable results. Nothing could have been better 
than the work done by the officers in this department, 
and no greater compliment could be paid them than that 
contained in the following extract from an intercepted 
letter written by one of the many plotters, " the English 
hear even our whispers." Through our agents we were 
at all times thoroughly in touch with the general situation 
in Persia, the local situation in Hamadan and the strength 
and position of the nearest Turkish detachments. We 
were also able eventually entirely to check all movements 
of spies on the stretch between Kasvin and Kermanshah, 



I 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 61 

and several quite good fish fell into the nets that we spread 
for them. As regards local intelligence we were able to 
know the exact degree of complicity with enemy agents 
of every single man of importance in the neighbourhood, 
and knowledge of this sort is very literally strength. 

Endeavours had also to be made to get in touch with 
Colonel Pike and Captain Goldsmith at Tiflis, and special 
messengers were dispatched for this purpose, but all our 
efforts to establish communication with Tiflis failed. 

From among the Persians themselves we recruited a 
very few but very good agents. These men worked for 
money, but money alone would not have produced the 
results ; they threw their lot in most whole-heartedly with 
us, and one of them at least was as brave a man as I 
have ever met in my life, risking his life for the sheer 
pleasure of risking it, and no danger or threats ever 
prevented him from following up a clue. The Russians 
were still occupying Hamadan ; the whole town was 
full of them, and sleep was much disturbed by their un- 
restricted indulgence in night-firing. Their Head Quarters 
were in the small summer resort of Sheverin, about 3 
miles away, and the prospect of their quitting the neigh- 
bourhood seemed very remote. 

General Baratov was in command, with General 
Lastochkin as Chief of the Staff, and our sympathies 
were very deeply with these officers in their difficult task 
of endeavouring to control troops who had broken away 
from discipline, and any prospect of the restoration of 
discipline had disappeared since officers had been for- 
bidden to wear any badges of rank. Bicherakov was 
still at Kermanshah, but a small detachment of his 
men were here, and represented the only unit that 
had any respect for law and order. 

Among other matters that required attention was the 
question of supplies. Our own needs were considerable, 
and we had also to be prepared for any number of troops 



62 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

that might be sent up later to these parts. In the midst 
of the terrible famine that was now at its height I did 
not wish to draw supplies from the country that would 
still further reduce the stock available for the starving 
people. But we soon had accurate intelligence on the 
supply question and found that there was sufficient grain 
and fodder for all, though no abundance, and it was only 
being held up to secure higher prices. Unfortunately, 
however, the result of our small purchases was to send 
prices still higher, and each fractional rise meant the 
death of many individuals. Only a properly regulated 
wheat control system could meet the case, and we were 
not at present strong enough to enforce our views on this 
subject, but we were able later to undertake the necessary 
measures when Brigadier-General Byron came up to 
Hamadan as my second-in-command. General Byron 
remained for a long time in Hamadan and was able 
to deal with the famine and wheat control in a 
businesslike way which did much to enhance our 
popularity. 

As it was impossible to forecast how long we were 
likely to be in Hamadan or in North Persia generally, it 
was necessary without further ado to tackle the language 
and get to know the officials and the people. Those of 
us who had a smattering of Persian soon learnt to improve 
our pronunciation, and those who knew none began 
taking lessons. 

The visits to the various officials and land owners were 
interesting and instructive. The principal officials in a 
Persian town are the Governor, the Deputy Governor, 
the Kar-guzar, who deals with foreign matters, and the 
Head of Police. In Hamadan we had also a special 
official appointed in connection with the liquidation of 
the Russian debts. The official who held this appoint- 
ment at the time of our residence in Hamadan was Haji 
Saad-es-Sultaneh, a most enlightened Persian who had 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 63 

travelled much, and to whose society I am indebted 
for many a pleasant and instructive hour. 

Li Persia all people of any consequence are known by 
titles, and their names are never known to their ordinary 
acquaintances. This makes it hard to trace people, as 
titles change frequently, and the title bears no reference 
to the nature of employment. Thus a gentleman of 
noble birth who bears the title of " Leader of the Army " 
has no connection with any military occupation. " The 
Governor of the Kingdom " is a pronounced democrat, 
" Headman of All " is a humble person of no importance, 
and one of the most dunderheaded illiterates I ever met 
was entitled " The Ocean of Knowledge." 

Within a few days of our arrival in Hamadan we had 
begun to make acquaintances among the people. The 
inevitable football was produced and the men were able 
to get a little relaxation and exercise. The Persians 
joined freely in the game which, owing to the presence 
of the American Mission here, was not entirely new to 
them, the graceful extra-long-tailed frock-coat they wear 
looking quite an unusual garment on a football ground. 
It certainly is more attractive than the football jersey, 
and any one who has seen the tails of a Persian frock-coat 
flopping in the breeze, as its owner flies down the ground, 
will realize that there is no comparison between the two. 
The boys who had been under the influence of the mission 
school were usually more correctly but less quaintly 
garbed. 

It seemed as if the drivers might have much leisure 
for football as the cars would not have much chance of 
running for some time. Not only were the passes quite 
blocked, but the petrol question had become very acute. 
We now relied entirely on the Russians for our supply. 
General Baratov was most anxious to help, and took steps 
to ensure an ample supply, but with the roads blocked 
and with subordinates not amenable to discipline the 



64 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

petrol seldom arrived. A certain amount was always 
to be purchased in the town, and we laid in a stock of 
this at most exorbitant rates. This petrol found its 
way into the bazaars through the Russian drivers, 
who added to their slender incomes by disposing of a 
proportion of their consignments in this way. 

Our first efforts at establishing friendly relations with 
the people were not entirely successful. The prospects 
of our success in this direction naturally called forth 
increased anti-British efforts on the part of the local 
officials. The Governor and all the chief people of the 
town spared no means to set the people against us ; while 
the politicians of every shade, Extreme Democrats, 
Moderate Democrats and Social Democrats, held the 
usual meetings denouncing us and decreeing our immediate 
extermination. 

Although we had been in Hamadan only a few days 
the people were informed that the rise in the price of 
bread was the result of our purchases of wheat (which 
were so far nil), that we were the advance-guard of an 
army, and if we were allowed to live, the army would 
arrive and eat up all the country and commit all sorts 
of atrocities. On the other hand, if we were slaughtered, 
the army would never dare to come. I thought it worth 
while to take a leaf out of their own book and try the 
effect of a printed proclamation. I therefore had notices 
posted in the town to the following effect: " The British 
are here as quite a temporary measure, and have no 
intention at all of remaining in this part of Persia, where 
our presence is only necessary in order to counteract that 
of the Turks. In all lands our first care is that of the 
people, and it is well known that wherever the British 
flag flies it stands for freedom, peace and prosperity. 
We have made no purchases of wheat and we are anxious 
to help to alleviate the famine. The present high prices 
are not due to our purchases, as we have so far made 



I 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 65 

none, but to a deliberate plot of the democrats who 
intimidate grain dealers and bakers and force up the price 
artificially in order to drive the people into a frenzy." 

This proclamation produced a considerable effect in 
the town, and helped to discredit the agitators. Nor was 
the good effect much reduced by their counter-proclamation 
which consisted chiefly of abuse, but contained the following 
amusing sentence. " The British General says he comes 
to bring peace and prosperity. Did we ask for it ? Let 
him keep his peace and prosperity till we demand it. 
Persia represents a civilization that was in its prime 
long before the British were ever heard of, and conse- 
quently we are not likely to learn much from them." 

I do not think that the sentimental appeal to patriotic 
pride in their ancient civilization interested the people 
half as much as my statement that our policy would be 
to help to alleviate the famine conditions. The fact is 
that the presence in their midst of a new type of soldier, 
who behaved himself with dignity and paid good prices 
for the articles he purchased, was beginning to sway 
popular opinion in our favour, and the more this feeling 
on the part of the people became apparent, the more 
vigorously did the democrats plot and scheme to turn 
the tide against us. 

In a few days the change of feeling in our favour was 
quite marked, and the intelligence department was 
beginning to make our presence felt in other beneficial 
ways. A complete system of agents and messengers was 
organized to cover the whole area from Hamadan to the 
Caucasus, and we were soon able to mark down and later 
to deal effectively with the most violent of our opponents. 

Meanwhile there was the question of our further parties 
now assembling in Baghdad. The mission had been 
officially designated '* Dunsterforce," and a Dunsterforce 
camp was formed at Baghdad, and afterwards at Ruz, 
to accommodate the various parties till orders could b© 

6 



66 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

issued as to their disposal. The unofficial designation 
was '' The Hush-Hush Army." 

I was anxious to get up another batch of officers, 
but we were not yet quite sure of our ground, and motor 
transport for them could not at the time be spared from 
Baghdad. I thoroughly realized the unfortunate situation 
of these officers and men arriving from some active theatre 
of the war, full of hope for the chance of great achievements, 
being obliged to kick their heels in camp in Mesopotamia ; 
but for the moment things must remain as they were, and 
the only thing for them to do was to undertake the study 
of Persian or Russian — a dull enough task for men who 
were primarily fighting men and who had never expected 
to be asked to qualify as linguists. 

The following is an extract from an appreciation of 
the situation which I dispatched at this time: 

^ "... The real combination we are up against is not 

only the Bolsheviks but the Pan-Islamic scheme uniting 
the Tartars of Baku with the Jangalis of Enzeli — a very 
strong anti-British combination backed with German 
money and German officers. ... As regards Tiflis, we are 
out to help people who cannot agree among themselves 
and seem to want not British interference but just British 
money, and that is all. Had it been possible for my mission 
to have been in Tiflis by the autumn of 1917, I would 
have devoted the whole of my energies to the drawing 
together of the two Christian peoples, the Georgians and 
the Armenians, while trying to bring the Mahomedan 
Tartars into line with them. On this basis alone could 
complete success be achieved. 

" But what has happened during those six months ? 
So far from sinking their religious differences, both sides 
have accentuated them, and the attitude of the Christian 
communities has driven the Tartars into a leaning towards 
the Turks. As regards the immediate future, let Persia 



WE FALL BACK TO HAMADAN 67 

and the Jangalis be first settled, and the road is clear 
at least as far as the South Caspian. ..." 

To deal with the Jangalis effectively troops would be 
required. As long as we had no troops on the ground 
Kuchik Khan refused to enter into any negotiations. 
Once troops were visible he would either fight or more 
probably admit the sense of a mutual agreement. 



CHAPTER V 
AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 

BY the middle of March we were firmly established 
on a fairly solid foundation in Hamadan. The 
strength of our position was much improved by the 
Persian habit of exaggeration, which leaned very much in 
our favour. We were fortunate in being able to see most 
of the telegrams that passed between various officials, 
and which generally ran something on these lines: 

" From X. to Z. 

Why have you not reported the numbers of British 
troops in your neighbourhood ? You do not do your 
work properly and you will have to be removed." 

" From Z. to X. 

I do my best to get information, but it is hard 
to find out what troops there are. They do not allow 
us to come near their place of residence." 

" From X. to Z. 

You must ascertain personally and give me 
accurate information. I must know what numbers 
they have. You must obey orders." 

This peremptory message worries and annoys Z., 
who in his exasperation lets himself go as follows : 



AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 69 

"In compliance with your orders I send figures that 
are reliable. They have here about 500 men and twelve 
armoured cars, each of the latter has four large guns. 
I have seen all this with my own eyes. They also have 
about 150 motor-cars." 

Then Z. probably smiles to himself as he thinks of 
the delight of X. at receiving such authentic information. 

We were beginning to get about the country a good 
deal now, and small parties with three or four Ford vans 
might be seen in various towns, each party resulting in 
a similar telegram to the above. When X. came to add 
up the totals received from his various informants our 
party of twelve officers, two clerks, forty-one drivers 
and one armoured car must have assumed the dimensions 
of an army corps. I purposely omit names and 
official titles from these telegrams for obvious reasons. 

The Turks were certain to have better information, 
but probably also much exaggerated, and I do not think 
they ever realized that the 240 miles of road from 
Kermanshah to Kasvin was being held by twelve officers 
and two clerks plus the armoured car. They were so 
close — in Shenneh, for example, only 100 miles from 
Hamadan — that a raid on our party would have been 
easy and probably successful. We were, moreover, 
surrounded by individual Turks ; in fact there were so 
many that we could not possibly undertake to arrest 
them all as we could spare neither guards nor rations. 
One or two of the more active among them had to be 
arrested, but the remainder were left in peace. They 
were in most cases our sincere well-wishers, chiefly men 
who had recently deserted from the Turkish detachments 
to the North- West, or from the army that had fought 
with the Russians on this road in 1916-17. Some of 
the latter had settled down in the villages as peaceful 
inhabitants and had married and begun to raise families. 



h 



70 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

The Russian evacuation was proceeding now with 
some rapidity and we would soon have nothing but the 
men of Bicherakov's detachment left. This would place 
us in a far more favourable position. I had at this time 
a great deal to do with General Saratov and his Staff, 
and it was necessary to discuss many things with reference 
to the evacuation. 

There were two points to be settled, one the question 
of finance, the other the question of handing over of 
material. 

I have mentioned General Baratov before as being 
the original Commander of the Russian Army that had 
in the earlier stages of the war done so much to help 
the Allied cause by operating against the Turks on this 
road through North-West Persia and by linking up with 
our right flank on the Turko -Persian border. 

General Baratov is himself a Caucasian, with his home 
in Tiflis, and naturally had his heart very much in any 
scheme that would tend to the restoration of law and 
order in that region. But during a revolution those who 
previously possessed most influence become the least 
influential of all, as they represent the very class against 
which the people have risen. The more valuable therefore 
his services had been and might still be to Russia and 
her Allies in this war, the more the Bolsheviks demanded 
his blood ; and the Enzeli Committee asked me to convey 
a polite message to him that if he would only come down 
to Enzeli, they were very anxious to try him by court 
martial (verdict and sentence a foregone conclusion). 
Under these circumstances I could expect little help 
from him except in the matter of advice. 

Had it been possible to utilize his services in the 
Caucasus there is no doubt that his personality would 
have been a great asset. He is an extraordinarily able 
speaker and always exceedingly popular. In North 
Persia the Russians had done little to endear themselves 




General Baratov 



AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 71 

to the people, but the feelings of friendship and affection 
with which General Baratov was regarded by the people 
who had least cause to like him, are evidences of a very 
fine character. He was at this time more particularly 
odious to the revolutionaries as having been one of 
the principal supporters of the Russo-British Volunteer 
Corps, which they regarded as being a counter-revolu- 
tionary movement. The history of this corps is briefly 
as follows : 

When it became evident in the autumn of 1917 that 
the Russian troops were going to evacuate their portion 
of the line in North Persia, leaving a gap of 400 miles 
on the right flank of the Mesopotamian army, it was 
thought that a force of volunteers might be raised from 
among the retiring troops, who would continue to serve 
under British control and on British pay, and this would 
obviate the necessity of sending up troops who could 
ill be spared from Baghdad. These volunteers were 
raised under the direct command of a very distinguished 
Russian officer, Colonel Baron Medem, but they were 
a failure from the very start, and when I saw them in 
February it was obvious that they would never be of 
any use. 

The idea had been that, with Russia in a state of 
anarchy, a large number of men would be glad to remain 
in a well-paid service until a change in affairs might render 
a return to their homes a more pleasant prospect than 
it was at present. This scheme was undoubtedly attrac- 
tive, and a fairly large force might have been raised 
under British officers. But it was decided that the force 
should have Russian officers, which was not acceptable 
to the men. The eventual failure was due to the 
Bolsheviks, who declared the movement counter-revolu- 
tionary and threatened with death any who supported 
it. And it was no real loss to us. 

Judging from the few specimens I saw I am convinced 



72 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

that the force at its best would have been quite worth- 
less. Even under British officers proper military dis- 
cipline could never have been restored, and the men 
composing the force would have been only the spiritless 
loafers who wanted to draw good pay and rations and 
avoid the turmoil of their own country, while equally 
refraining from risking their lives or undertaking any 
arduous tasks for the " cunning " Englishmen in Persia. 
We should therefore be grateful to the Bolsheviks who 
nipped in the bud a scheme that was destined under 
any circumstances to be a complete failure. 

A good deal of my time was also taken up in discussing 
with General Baratov the possibilities of British assistance 
in the matter of the costs of the Russian evacuation. 
It was clear that it was to the interests of all that the 
Russian troops should be got out of Persia without delay, 
and as the Russians had no money it would be advisable 
to afford whatever financial assistance might be neces- 
sary. This had been agreed to, and the payments were 
carefully controlled by a local board, of which Mr. 
McMurray, of the Imperial Bank, was President. 

But there remained the question of the Russian debts, 
and on this subject the British Government was adamant. 

The position was certainly unpleasant for General 
Baratov personally, but it could hardly be expected 
that we could allow arguments of a sentimental nature 
to have any force. 

The British Government had offered, under certain 
guarantees, a fixed sum payable at certain periods, which 
was calculated to meet the difference between a sum to 
be received by General Baratov at intervals from the 
Tiflis Government and the actual cost of the evacua- 
tion. The Tiflis Government failed to produce their 
share, and the Russian Commander had to make up the 
deficit by the issue of payment requisition orders in lieu 
of cash. These paper obligations now amounted to a 



I 



AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 73 

considerable sum, and General Baratov begged that 
the British Government would undertake their redemp- 
tion in order not only to clear his personal honour, 
but to uphold the prestige of the European in Asia, a 
matter which he maintained affected British credit as 
much as Russian. 

His heart-rending appeals were met by constant 
and unqualified refusals, and it was my painful duty to 
convey the news of these reiterated refusals on each 
occasion. 

The arguments adduced by the gallant General would 
have melted the heart of a stone ; but as they could 
not be cabled home in full the heart of the British 
Government remained quite unmelted. 

" See, Lev Lvovitch," he would say to me in intro- 
ducing a picturesque allegory, " there on the floor before 
you lies a dead body. Whose body is it ? It is that of 
Russia. Have you no tears of pity for it ? Can you 
forget that that friend, who now lies in the awful still- 
ness of death before you, saved you and saved all the 
Allies in the first year of the war ? Because we have 
fallen from grace, are you to take no account of our 
earlier heroism ? You stand before me, Russia's friend. 
Before you lies, uncared for and unburied, the dead body 
of your friend. Do you mean to tell me that you will 
not even pay the funeral expenses ? The redemption 
of the requisitions which I demand from your Govern- 
ment, is only to save your deceased friend from a 
pauper's grave ! " 

The contrary contention was, however, firmly up- 
held, and the requisitions were in the end only partially 
redeemed by other means. 

Another matter that absorbed much time was the 
question of paying the Russians for material taken over 
from them. All supplies we were glad to have and took 
over without hesitation. Wheeled transport, telegraph 




74 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

equipment and certain military stores would also be of 
great value. But there were certain items which could 
hardly be seriously entertained. Among such repudi- 
ated items I give the following specimens : 

1. Payment for the military telegraph line from 

Hamadan to Enzeli. Answer : Totally destroyed 
and of no value. 

2. Purchase of military roads constructed by the 

Russian Army. Answer : The question of roads 
constructed in Persia must be referred to the 
Persian Government. Whatever sum of money 
I paid for these roads would not make me 
their owner. 

3. Purchase of bridging material. Answer : Per- 

manent bridges having been constructed, this 
is not required. 

4. The Russians had meant to repair the Asadabad 

road and had collected a lot of metal by 
the roadside ; will the British purchase this ? 
Answer : No. 

Then when it was decided to take over certain things 
the question arose: "Who was the owner?" There 
was General Baratov representing the Tifiis Govern- 
ment, but there were also various other bodies such as 
the Zemski Soyuz, a charitable Red Cross institution, 
and these bodies did not hand over their rights to him. 
So we generally found that the things we bought from 
one man belonged to another, and when the latter's 
claim came up it was generally a very nebulous one. 

With regard to some telegraph material I arranged 
to purchase, I found it already belonged by previous 
agreement to the Persian Telegraphs, and while we and 
the Persian Telegraphs were considering the matter, 
the stuff was removed by a third party who had a very 
doubtful claim, but wisely decided that possession was 



AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 75 

nine points of the law and walked off with it. This 
individual afterwards showed me the document on which 
his claim was based, and which was simply a chit signed 
by a Russian Second-Lieutenant to say that " the bearer 
can have the wire if he wants it." 

Between these Russian negotiations and the endeavour 
to establish reasonable relations with the Persian com- 
munity, it may be understood that our time was fully 
taken up. Measures for defence were also necessary in 
view of the rumours, based undoubtedly on real inten- 
tions, of an attack on the mission. Sometimes it was 
to be the townspeople themselves urged on by the 
political agitators, at other times it was to be wandering 
bands of desperadoes, raiding tribes, and professional 
highwaymen. It may have been just the fact that we 
were always prepared both night and day that prevented 
any of these bloodthirsty schemes from materializing. 
As long as the Russians were near us, it was possible 
that they might help us in case of difficulty, but it was 
equally possible that revolutionary soldiers might be 
tempted to join in with the other programme, that 
included, like all good programmes, the looting of 
the bank. 

The weather remained very bad, and this factor 
was more for us than against us, causing a reluctance 
on the part of would-be attackers to undertake opera- 
tions in the snow, which fell frequently and rendered 
movement difficult on foot and impossible in wheeled 
conveyances. 

After a heavy fall on March 16th the weather cleared 
for a spell, enabling the last of the Russians to get on 
the move, leaving only Bicherakov's detachment at 
Sheverin, 3 miles out of the town. 

My thoughts being still fixed on the Caucasus, many 
schemes were put up before me for consideration, but not 
one of them showed any reasonable chance of success. 



76 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

I was interviewed frequently by individual Russian 
officers, who, inspired with the desire to do something 
for their country in her desperate plight, propounded 
schemes that belonged more to the realm of fairyland 
than to that of practical possibilities. 

One such scheme commenced with a suggestion of 
the payment by the British Government of fourteen 
million pounds in a lump sum and ended with the restora- 
tion of order in the Caucasus and a triumphant entry 
into Moscow. Other smaller minds suggested the capture 
of a gunboat on the Caspian by aeroplane, forgetting 
that when the aeroplane had captured the gunboat the 
latter would have no port to put into and would have 
to spend its time till its oil fuel gave out, wandering round 
and round the Caspian. 

Our supply question was also a matter of some 
difficulty. I wanted not only to supply our own needs, 
but also to begin laying in stocks for the troops that must 
eventually move up this road. But we were hampered 
by the famine conditions, by the resistance of the local 
officials and by an order issuing from the Govern- 
ment at Teheran that the British were to be prevented 
from getting supplies of any sort. The food we got was 
good enough, but not the sort of ration to keep a British 
soldier fit. Meat was not hard to obtain, bread in the 
form of Persian " Sangak," somewhat like the Indian 
chupattie, could be procured at a high price, fresh vege- 
tables were not to be had, and their place had to be taken 
by dried figs and apricots. The men ate their rations 
cheerfully enough without caring much for them, the 
British soldier being a very staunch conservative in 
the matter of his food. But the Persian bread was too 
much for their digestions, and they began to suffer from 
stomach trouble which would in the end have become 
serious had we not managed at last to set up a small 
bakery and turn out some quite decent bread. This 



AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 77 

bakery we were enabled to construct out of some of the 
useful gear we had taken over from the Russians. 

We began now to add to the strength of our force 
by taking into our service several Russian officers, of 
guaranteed integrity and proved ability, who had fled 
from the clutches of the Bolsheviks of Baku. These 
helped us greatly to keep touch with the Baku situa- 
tion, and two of them were at once dispatched on a 
secret mission. All of those who entered our service 
at this time were men who had already distinguished 
themselves in the war and who would stick at nothing 
to prove their merit ; they nobly maintained their 
reputation. 

The last of the Russian regular army having with- 
drawn, Bicherakov's men were now getting restless, and 
he informed me that he had the intention of following 
the rest of the army and leaving Persia as soon as his 
transport could be arranged. If he carried out this 
move, all chance of retaining our hold on North Persia 
would be gone. I could continue to hold out in Hamadan, 
but I should be able to exert no influence farther north, 
and there would be nothing to prevent Kasvin falling into 
the hands of the Jangalis, who would certainly be getting 
on the move now that the weather showed signs of 
improvement. 

It was therefore necessary to tempt him to throw 
in his lot entirely with us, and to draw up an agreement 
that would be advantageous to both of us. After many 
discussions on the various points we finally settled on 
the following terms : 

1. That he would not withdraw his troops from Persia 

till I could replace them with our own troops. 

2. That I would assist him financially, as he had great 

difficulty in paying his men, but that he was in 
no sense a mercenary, would accept no money 



78 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

for any service performed but only for expenses 
actually incurred for military operations. 

3. That neither would undertake operations without 

consulting the other, and that any financial 
assistance from the British Government would 
cease if he undertook operations not in 
accordance with the general plans of the Allies. 

4. That the first operation to be undertaken would 

be an attack on Kuchik Khan's army and the 
clearing of the road from Kasvin to the 
Caspian. 

5. That if he would fall in with my plans in Persia, 

we would try to evolve a mutual plan for 
later operations in the Caucasus, where my 
assistance to him would be as valuable as his 
to me. 

This excellent agreement had no sooner been drawn up 
than an opportunity occurred of testing its value. On 
March 23rd we received reliable information that the 
Jangalis were preparing to march on Kasvin and that 
Kasvin was preparing to welcome them. They were 
now holding all the strong points on the Resht road and 
had entrenched themselves in a position to cover the 
Menjil bridge and close the road to all traffic. 

On March 24th we pushed oJBf a small detachment 
of Cossacks to Kasvin, and the remainder moving by 
route march reached that town in the nick of time. 
Kuchik Khan's scheme was for the moment thwarted 
and Kasvin saved. The situation there had become so 
critical that the bank had had orders to close, and all 
officials to withdraw. The bank at Resht had been 
looted ; the bank manager, Mr. Oakshot, and the British 
Consul, Mr. Maclaren, had both been arrested and were 
now prisoners in the hands of the Jangalis. Captain 
Noel, endeavouring to reach me with dispatches from 



AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 79 

Tiflis, also fell into their hands. The two former were 
allowed a certain amount of freedom and escaped to 
Enzeli after some months' captivity ; the latter, however, 
was treated with great rigour from the first and was 
kept a prisoner for five months until released under the 
terms of peace made after the defeat of the Jangalis. He 
had made several attempts to escape, being thwarted 
in each case by sheer bad luck, and each unsuccessful 
attempt resulted in increased severity in his treatment 
which, without going into details, was far from being 
in accordance with the rules of civilized warfare, though 
Kuchik always maintained that in such matters he was 
on a par with European nations. 

It would now be possible for Bicherakov to move 
forward on the Menjil road and he was anxious to do so. 
As I had as yet no troops to put up behind him this would 
have left me in a very bad position, and I was able to 
make him defer his departure by the promise of aeroplanes 
and armoured cars to support his move if he would only 
wait another week. In this way I was able to keep him 
hanging on for ten weeks, by which time the needed troops 
had arrived and the scheme was brought to a success- 
ful issue. Those ten weeks were not a very happy time 
for either of us, and we got dangerously near to what 
are politely called " mutual recriminations." 

A suggestion that Persian levies and irregulars should 
be raised was at once taken up and added considerably 
to the heavy tasks which fell on the small number of 
officers available. It was decided therefore to get up 
a second batch of officers and N.C.O.'s. 

My present duties were now defined as being to take 
energetic and immediate measures to frustrate enemy 
penetration through North- West Persia. We had already 
had considerable success on these lines, and a rather 
valuable Austrian army officer fell into our hands on 
March 21st. He was captured through the agency of 



80 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

the Cossacks, together with a Turkish sergeant who was 
acting as his guide and interpreter. The officer was dis- 
guised as a Persian lady, but his height and gait aroused 
suspicion, while the Turkish sergeant was more easily 
disguised as a Persian peasant, and could have passed 
muster if alone. The only special request the Austrian 
had to make was that he might be given some European 
bread to eat, and he was astonished and disgusted to 
hear that we had been eating " Sangak " ourselves for 
two months and had nothing else to offer him : a week 
later we could have given him the treat he asked for, 
when our famous bakery had got under way. 

In the surrounding villages some drilling was going 
on at this time under Turkish instructors. This was 
all part of the scheme to exterminate our party, and 
we took steps to interfere with these parades ; not that 
they seemed likely to result in anything very serious for 
a considerable time at least, but the actual drilling of 
well-armed men is certainly getting nearer to action than 
the passing of resolutions to which the plotters had 
hitherto confined themselves. 

Famine relief had already commenced and was begin- 
ning to work well ; a description of the work undertaken 
will be given in a later chapter. The evidences of famine 
were terrible, and in a walk through the town one was 
confronted with the most awful sights. Nobody could 
endure such scenes if he were not endowed with the 
wonderful apathy of the Oriental : " It is the will of 
God ! " So the people die and no one makes any effort 
to help, and a dead body in the road lies unnoticed until 
an effort to secure some sort of burial becomes unavoid- 
able. I passed in a main thoroughfare the body of a 
boy of about nine years of age who had evidently died 
during the day ; he lay with his face buried in the mud, 
and the people passed by on either side as if he were 
merely any ordinary obstruction in the roadway. 



AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 81 

Spring was now beginning to show signs of its advent, 
but on April 1st down came the snow again and for a 
time winter regained the supremacy. It was not possible 
to dispense with fires till May. 

On this day we really thought that the expected 
climax had actually arrived. Breathless messengers from 
the town brought the news that the people were taking 
up arms, and the Governor himself was issuing rifles 
and ammunition to the mob with orders to destroy the 
English. This was very much like the real thing, and we 
prepared for our destruction. But investigation proved 
that the alarm was false and the occurrence was of quite 
another nature. As I was by this time a firm friend of 
the Governor I could not believe that he would behave 
quite so treacherously. It is a good maxim to trust no 
one in war time, and I never trusted my Persian friends 
to the extent of relaxing all precautions, but I always 
found that the measure of trust I considered judicious 
was never betrayed. 

In fact all that had happened was that a Persian 
Cossack had been arrested and imprisoned by the Governor. 
Bicherakov's Cossacks got the idea that it was one of 
their comrades who had been confined, galloped into 
the town and prepared to storm the prison. This was 
too much even for the very yielding Governor, who 
quite rightly met the situation by arming his men and 
proceeding to defy the Cossacks. A conflict was only 
avoided by the arrival of General Baratov, who called 
a truce, examined into the facts of the case and per- 
suaded the Cossacks to return to their quarters. 

On April 3rd General Byron arrived with the second 
party, a very welcome addition of twenty officers and 
as many N.C.O.'s to our little force. The party were 
well selected and included Captain Donohoe, the well- 
known war correspondent, who was doubly welcome on 
account of his knowledge of Russian, and Captain Eve, 

T 



82 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

equally a Russian scholar, of the Royal Engineers, a 
service so far unrepresented in our small detachment. 
Another useful addition was Lieutenant Akbar, a Persian 
gentleman with business connections in England, whose 
services proved of the greatest value. 

Looking back on our first passage through these 
mountain defiles, I never cease to marvel at the fact 
that while travelling on the road from Baghdad to Enzeli 
and thence back to Hamadan, only one single shot was 
fired at the party. The Russians did not fare so well, 
and always ran into trouble. A motor lorry containing 
six Russians was ambushed near Hamadan at the end 
of March and all the occupants killed. Another car was 
attacked beyond the Sultan Bulaq Pass and three oflficials 
killed, and a third attack on a motor lorry at the foot 
of the pass was successfully beaten off. 

I do not think that this necessarily showed excessive 
hostility to the Russians as compared with ourselves, 
but more perhaps the utter neglect of precautions which 
was characteristic of the former's happy-go-lucky methods. 
The same tragedies continued to be enacted on the Enzeli 
road till the last of the Russians had gone. Lorries were 
continually being held up and burnt and the occupants 
killed, whereas with the exception of the casualties involved 
in actual fighting, we never lost a car or a man on 
the road throughout the whole period of our occupation. 

A small detachment of the 1/4 Hants Territorial 
Infantry, consisting of thirty rifles, joined our force at 
Hamadan at the end of March, and on the same day 
the first aeroplane arrived from Baghdad. The former 
though not a large body of troops was quite a formidable 
addition, as things go in Persia, and was promptly 
reported to Teheran as being a whole battalion ; the latter 
produced a moral effect that was of more value than 
many troops. It was an unmistakable sign of strength 
and suggested the proximity of the Baghdad army. 



AN ALLIANCE OF PHANTOMS 83 

Neither the Russians nor the Turks had been able to use 
aeroplanes in these parts, and the effect of our aeroplane 
was much enhanced by its novelty. 

The news of the arrival of numerous aeroplanes and 
the battalion of infantry had a good effect in the distant 
capital, where enemy propaganda had lately been 
running with great vigour and had resulted in various 
disturbances and the holding of the usual anti-British 
meetings. The position of the British Legation was very 
precarious. 

The Persian Government now made a rather clever 
move. Seeing that by our alliance with Bicherakov we 
had secured Kasvin and had thwarted the movement 
of Kuchik Khan, and that such an alliance was likely 
to be most beneficial to our cause, an attempt was made 
to separate us from the Russians. A peremptory message 
was sent to Bicherakov ordering him to remove his troops 
at once from Persia, in accordance with the previous 
agreement between the Russian and Persian authorities, 
under which the former had promised to evacuate Persia 
by a date already far past. Dire threats were made as 
to what would happen if there were any further delay 
in compliance with this order. But it did not result 
in any hastening of the withdrawal, Bicherakov ex- 
plaining that he was getting along as quickly as he 
could, and was only delayed by the presence of Kuchik 
Khan's troops on the road. 

The mission now began to assume quite an inter- 
national character, being joined by three French ofl&cers. 
These officers were on their way under Colonel Chardigny 
to join the French mission in the Caucasus, but attached 
themselves to me till they could get a chance of reaching 
their destination. Two of them later returned to France, 
leaving with us Lieutenant Poidebard, an excellent 
fellow, who remained with us from this time onwards 
until the fall of Baku. 



84 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Several cases occurred of officers being shot at, but 
without casualties, the firers preferring to keep a good 
distance away, and they were not at all good at long 
shots. The only case of shooting at close quarters was 
where a Persian drew his revolver on an officer, but the 
latter was fairly handy with his weapon and got in his 
shot first. With the exception of these few instances 
there were no attempts at violence, and the town began 
to look on us as permanent, and not at all unwelcome, 
residents. 



I 



CHAPTER VI 
WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS 

THINGS were much more plain sailing from the 
latter end of March, when the Russian troops had 
completed their evacuation and Bicherakov and ourselves 
had a clear ground to work on. 

The agreement we had entered into was very sound 
as long as it lasted, but there was always the risk that 
the impatience of the Cossacks to get back to their homes 
in the North Caucasus might lead to their breaking away 
from us. They were already chafing at the delay, and I 
knew it would be many weeks yet before their further 
move towards the Caspian would suit our plans. It 
seemed very doubtful whether we should be able to hold 
them till our troops were up. 

In any case, in the absence of our troops, although 
the Persians estimated my body of twelve officers, two 
clerks and forty-one chauffeurs with one armoured car 
and thirty soldiers as representing several thousand troops, 
it was obviously not possible to conduct operations with 
this phantom army, and active operations would soon be 
necessary. It was clearly a case of the Cossacks or 
nothing. 

In describing the various phases through which the 
work of the mission passed at this time, it is difficult to 
adhere to an exact sequence. We were simultaneously 
engaged in so many parallel tasks that it is only possible 

86 



86 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

to make the situation clear by devoting separate chapters 
to each phase. These chapters therefore do not describe 
events following one another, but events actually taldng 
place concurrently. 

Thus in the last chapter I endeavoured to set forth 
the situation as between the Russians and ourselves. 
In this chapter we must hark back to the time of our 
first arrival in Hamadan in order to explain our relations 
with the Persians. 

As soon as it became apparent that our stay in 
Hamadan might be prolonged, I set out to make the 
acquaintance of all the officials, the landowners, the 
politicians and the merchants. The numerous visits 
and return visits constituted a somewhat arduous 
task, but the experience was on the whole enjoyable. 
Certainly the Persians have no monopoly of the virtues, 
neither have they of the vices. They make very poor 
soldiers in these degenerate days, but the most pugnacious 
people are not necessarily the most amiable, and I see 
no reason why the Persian should be despised because he 
has adopted a line of philosophy which regards fighting 
as an anachronism and prefers the tongue to the sword. 
The Chinaman divides his nation into two classes, the 
braves and the non-braves, and the Persian follows much 
the same line of thought. Certain classes, such as high- 
way robbers, make a profession of being brave and have 
to live up to it (though they don*t !) ; others openly 
profess not to be brave and are consequently not expected 
to encounter, but rather to flee from, danger. " I drew 
the feet of security under the skirt of contentment " is 
a Persian phrase that expresses the feeling quite neatly. 

In my earlier calls I was very kindly conducted by 
the British Consul, Mr. MacDowell, who interpreted and 
advised me on points of etiquette. Our first visit was 
of course to the Governor, Nizam-es-Sultan, an ultra 
extreme democrat as far as political nomenclature went, 



WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS 87 

but otherwise an aristocrat in ideas and tendencies. He 
was renowned as being so " ultra extreme '* that his views 
were practically anarchical, and altogether he promised 
to be a very difficult person to tackle. It was for March 
3rd that our visit had been fixed, and at 4.30 p.m. on that 
date we arrived at the Governor's residence, where we 
were received by a general salute from the police guard 
and escorted to the room of audience by a uniformed 
retainer. 

Captain Saunders, and Captain Dunning, my A.D.C., 
accompanied me, the former, who had served in Seistan, 
possessing some knowledge of Persian and being quite 
in his element in visits of this kind. 

We received a polite and frigid shake of the hand 
from the Governor who, after introducing his friend Haji 
Saad-es-Sultaneh, the special delegate for Russian affairs, 
begged us to be seated and ordered tea to be served. 

Nizam-es- Sultan was a nice-looking Persian gentleman 
of about thirty-five years of age with the polished manners 
of Teheran society ; his companion was a good-looking 
man about ten years older, who had travelled much in 
Europe, spoke French fluently and had adopted European 
manners and, with the exception of headdress, European 
costume. 

Some time was absorbed in the usual inane remarks 
of polite society. The Governor remarked that there 
had been a lot of snow, to which one could but assent, 
and that there would very likely be more, to which 
probability I equally agreed. 

On my part I spoke of deaths from famine and 
deplored the uncertainty of life, commenting also on the 
execrable nature of the road between here and Asadabad. 
This brought us immediately out of inanities into realities. 
The Governor at once woke up and fired off a volley of 
questions at me. 

" Was the road really very bad ? " 



88 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

** Where had we come from ? " 

** Why had we come ? '* 

" How many men were there in the party ? " 

With the exception of the last, these questions were 
easy to answer, but this demand for information was 
rather disconcerting though easily warded off with a 
good square lie ; but in this instance I was able to answer 
that there were " quite a lot, and a lot more coming 
and then lots more." 

In order to prevent a pursuance of this embarrassing 
theme and fearing to be asked for a precise definition 
of the meaning of the word *' lot," I now switched off 
the conversation on to Kuchik Khan, a topic which 
immediately caused the inquiries as to our numbers to be 
put aside. " Excellent fellow this Mirza Kuchik Khan," 
I said, " I rather like him, although so far he and I have 
not quite agreed about things ; but that is only because 
we have not yet been able to meet and talk. If we could 
meet I am sure he would find we had nothing to disagree 
about. I suppose your Excellency is in sympathy with 
him ? " 

This brought forth the pained and indignant denial 
I had expected, but a denial that did not convince me. 
The intentionally abrupt introduction of the subject 
had taken him rather off his guard, and there was a 
hesitation in his manner that indicated a mind not 
altogether innocent. The fact of the matter is he 
was not of those who had actually thrown in their 
lot with the Jangali movement, but was among the 
wiser ones who were waiting to see which way the 
wind blew. 

The other official joined in the conversation and tried 
to get various admissions out of me, but I trust he drew 
a blank, and as this was only an official call I made a 
point of withdrawing early, which put an end to any 
further cross-examination. 



WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS 89 

I am sure that the British residents of Hamadan will 
smile when I say that I took a great liking to Nizam-es- 
Sultan, their point of view and mine not being likely to 
be the same. Their first objection to him would be that, 
though a Governor, he did not govern. But the question 
arises are Persian Governors meant to govern ? In no 
case among my many acquaintances with Governors was 
there any indication of a serious effort to govern in our 
meaning of the word. They represent government, and 
their real function begins and ends with that. To take 
actual examples, at a time like the present the question 
of famine relief should be the first step of a Governor. 
Was there one in Persia who even mildly interested him- 
self in it ? At all times the question of sanitation is a 
vital one. Is there a Persian Governor in the whole 
kingdom who cares twopence for it ? No ! My friend 
was all he should be according to Persian lights, a nice 
gentleman and a charming representative of Teheran, 
but he did not govern ! 

Other visits followed, to the Kar-guzar, and to the 
chief landowner, Amir Afgham, the former a pleasant 
fellow, hating his enforced residence in a dull provincial 
town and never ceasing to regret his inability to get a 
decent game of Poker. This regret was shared by the 
Governor, and both prayed fervently for a transfer to 
Teheran, where they could taste again the delights of 
society in that gay capital and play Poker to their 
hearts* content. 

But the other. Amir Afgham, was a very fine type of 
the Persian country gentleman, a little man about sixty 
years of age, hale and hearty, with a boisterous laugh that 
could be heard half a mile away ; enormously wealthy 
and, as is usual with very wealthy people, always very 
hard up. He was quite naturally a great hater of demo- 
crats and politicians generally and of the Governor 
especially. At the time of our visit he had the Deputy 



90 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Governor staying with him, and the latter was present 
while we conversed. It was another insight into Persian 
affairs to hear the old man revile the Governor in the 
most biting terms, while the Governor's right-hand man 
sat there and applauded. 

The real cause of the Amir's indignation was that the 
Governor had, in the routine performance of his duties, 
demanded from him the payment of very considerable 
arrears of taxes. The taxes were undoubtedly legitimate 
and very much in arrears ; but to demand them seemed 
so very uncourteous ! Such forgivable lapses of memory 
ought not to be drawn attention to, and the old gentle- 
man resisted the tax collectors by force of arms, the 
incident ending, as such incidents fortunately do 
in Persia, without bloodshed. And the taxes remained 
unpaid. 

To see the Deputy Governor heartily sympathizing 
with the wicked old man in this flouting of authority 
enabled me to realize the difficulty of a Persian Governor's 
really governing. Perhaps, after all, the Persian system 
of letting things take their own course is as good as any 
other. 

The Persian point of view was set forth in the reply 
to my printed proclamation, of which I have already 
spoken — " Our methods may be deplorable, but they are 
our own ; they suit us, and we don't want yours, which 
don't suit us." 

My visit to the Amir certainly threw a new light on 
the question of a Governor's position. You may abuse 
him for not governing, but it must be a hard task to 
administer public affairs when the biggest man in the 
neighbourhood defies your authority and resists by armed 
force your attempts to enforce it, while your assistant 
sides so strongly with the cause of all the trouble that 
he severs all connection with you and goes to live with 
the enemy. 



WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS 91 

Incidentally it was gratifying to realize how such 
Gilbertian situations strengthened our otherwise weak 
position in Hamadan. 

The old Amir did not put me to any very severe 
cross-examination; he seemed rather glad than otherwise 
at the prospect of British troops coming to this part of 
Persia. He felt that any rule would be preferable to the 
rule of democrats, who paid little respect to his position 
and had the effrontery to suggest the payment of his 
arrears of taxes. 

A few days after these visits the return calls began. 
The Governor, the Kar-guzar and Haji Saad-es-Sultaneh 
arrived in due state with official escorts, and the conversa- 
tion this time was not quite so frigidly formal ; the ice 
was beginning to thaw. The Amir called with a most 
imposing retinue, including a handsome pony led by a 
retainer carrying only his pipe and tobacco and a brazier 
of lighted charcoal, the latter looking rather an un- 
comfortable load for a fidgety pony ; but perhaps sad 
experience had taught the tobacco pony not to fidget. 
During this time the other officers were getting into touch 
Avith minor officials in the town, and famine relief work 
had already begun brought us into contact with all 
classes, so that by the end of the month we formed an 
integral and indispensable part of local society. 

But the cross-examination of myself and my Staff 
continued with unabated vigour and was becoming 
insupportable. I knew the sort of telegrams the Governor 
and others were receiving from the Minister of the Interior 
ordering them at all costs to discover the exact strength 
of the British detachment, so I could hardly blame them 
for making some sort of a show to carry out their orders. 
My studies in Persian were progressing famously, and a 
renewal of my early acquaintance with the " Gulistan " 
of Sa'adi proved of great value to me in the fencing 
matches that ensued. 



92 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

It is a marvellous thing that while all Persians are 
brought up on the wisdom of Sa'adi and other deep and 
attractive thinkers (and there is not a problem in life 
that has not its solution in the writings of these poets), 
they read them and quote them and are never guided 
by them. They look feebly for enlightenment to the 
West, when all that we have worth knowing, except 
modern science, we have got from the East. 

In the eighth chapter of the *'Gulistan" I found 
what I was looking for, a quotation that I could learn 
by heart and which would shield me from the shower 
of embarrassing questions that the Governor made a 
point of putting me at each interview. 

I finally protested on these lines : ** My visits to you 
and yours to me are a source of undiluted pleasure to me, 
but I do not think that we conduct our conversations 
on proper or fair lines. I talk to you of the weather, 
the crops, the pleasures of life, the uncertainty of existence 
and the ultimate destiny of mankind. Your conversation 
on the other hand consists of a series of oft-repeated and 
most uninteresting questions, such as : How many troops 
have you got ? How many rifles have they ? How many 
rounds per rifle ? How many more are coming ? When 
will they arrive ? Where are they now ? Conversation 
on such lines is extremely wearisome to me, and must 
be equally so to you. I could quite easily answer all 
your questions by telling you lies, because obviously my 
Government does not expect me to lay bare official secrets, 
but I have a great objection to telling lies, and in that 
respect I may represent a type quite new to you ; but 
I repeat that falsehood is most repugnant to me. I might, 
according to the well-known Persian saying, wrap up 
my principles in the napkin of oblivion, but I prefer not 
to do this. In answer therefore to all questions you have 
so far put to me and intend to put to me in the future, 
I give you the following quotation from Sa'adi : 



WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS 08 

Not every secret that one has in one's heart 

Should one reveal to the best of friends — 

God knows, he may be an enemy to-morrow ! 

And not every possible injury 

Should one do to an enemy — 

God knows, he may be a friend to-morrow ! 

This settled finally the irritating cross-examinations, 
and I was never really bothered by them again. Now 
and then in response to a peremptory order from Teheran, 
a fitful effort was made to revive the old process, but it 
was not even necessary to produce the quotation; it 
suJBficed to say " Eighth Chapter," and with a smile my 
interlocutors turned to brighter themes. 

It is not to be imagined that my unassisted Persian 
would run to these flights of eloquence. The conversation 
was sustained partly by the combined efforts in Persian 
of Captain Saunders and myself, partly by means of the 
Consul or Mr. McMurray acting as interpreter, and partly 
by making use of French in addressing the Haji. 

Our friendship with the local notables was now firmly 
established, and bore ripe and luscious fruits for both 
sides. The monetary basis, which is the ordinary, useful, 
but sordid method of gaining one's ends, was entirely 
absent from our relations, and though when any kindly 
act was done, the other politicians invariably scented 
a bribe, I can truthfully say that whatever was done to 
help us at this time was done without any recourse to 
money payments. 

I can give an example, however, from our dealings 
with an official, not mentioned by name, which occurred 
in another town at another time. 

This official was a great personal friend of mine, and 
showed the reality of his feelings in a very marked way. 
The question of obtaining supplies at the time of which 
I am speaking, was becoming one of daily increasing 
difficulty. 



94 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

On a certain morning I was made aware of the fact 
that a cipher telegram from a person in high authority 
had been delivered to the official in question. And it 
was also made known to me that the contents of the 
telegram were as follows : " You are to see that the British 
get no more supplies of any sort. All their contractors 
are at once to be imprisoned." This looked as if we 
might expect rather more active opposition in the matter 
of obtaining supplies, but there was nothing to do but 
** wait and see." We had not long to wait before we 
saw. 

The first report I got was from the Supply Officer, 
who informed me that supplies promised for delivery 
that morning had not turned up. This was soon followed 
by a wail from families bereft of their breadwinners to 
the effect that the heads of the families who were our 
contractors had been thrown into a dungeon. 

An urgent message was sent to the official asking for 
an explanation, and begging for a release of the men. 
This drew forth a reply couched in polite but severe 
language stating that the men had been arrested on 
certain charges and could not be released. 

Now was the time for choosing between two 
diametrically opposite lines of action. Should we parade 
the twelve officers, two clerks and forty-one drivers 
and endeavour to rescue our contractors at the point of 
the bayonet, or should we put our friendship to the 
test and see if our friends would act up to their 
professions ? The latter course commended itself to 
me, and I set forth with a Staff Officer to interview 
the obstructive official. I was afraid he would say he 
was ill and unable to see me, which is the usual Persian 
method when trouble is brewing ; I took it as a good 
sign, therefore, when we were admitted without hesita- 
tion to his residence and courteously received by 
him in his most severely official manner. After the 



WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS »5 

usual exchange of compliments we commenced busi- 
ness by my asking for an explanation of the tyrannical 
treatment of my contractors. In reply I received the 
following statement: 

" With regard to the imprisonment of the men you 
refer to, I regret to state that I am acting under orders 
which in my official capacity I am bound to obey. You 
may not believe it, but I will tell you in confidence that 
I have just received explicit orders to the effect that every 
measure is to be taken to prevent you from getting supplies, 
and your contractors are to be forthwith imprisoned as 
a first step to giving effect to this decree. Your presence 
is not desired in Persia, and it is intended to make your 
position here impossible. Why do you disturb the peace 
of a neutral country like Persia by bringing troops 
here ? 

" As regards the imprisonment of the contractors," I 
replied, " surely it is not possible in your country to put 
men in prison without bringing a legal charge against 
them, and surely there is no law in this land prohibiting 
the sale of grain to any would-be purchaser ! " 

To this the official retorted, " You do not know our 
laws and you are not therefore competent to discuss 
them ; they do not resemble yours. I am ordered to 
arrest these men and I have done so." 

I then explained, not for the first time, that as to the 
remark regarding our presence here in a neutral country, 
we were most unwillingly forced into that position. If 
Persia would keep her neutrality there would be no need 
for our presence here, which was solely necessitated by 
the activity of the Germans and Turks in this neutral 
country. The Persian Government seemed to acquiesce 
in Turkish occupation and German intrigue, and to 
claim the laws of neutrality only as regards one of the 



96 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

belligerents. There was no great need for entering on 
such a discussion at this time but Orientals do not like 
to be hurried, and it is polite to talk a little round your 
point before you come to it. So after interchanging a 
few more opinions on these general subjects, I deemed 
it time to work back to the original point, which I 
did in these words : ''I am grateful to you for your 
detailed explanation of the circumstances leading to 
the present trouble, and as a soldier I would be the 
last person to suggest disobedience of orders. I see 
that the course you have adopted was the only one 
open to you and I admire the promptness of your 
obedience. You have now fulfilled your duty, and 
can report your having done so, with a clear conscience, 
to your superiors. That quite finally settles the official 
side of this interview may be regarded as closed. 

** Now may I address you as a friend? In that capacity 
I feel I can rely upon you to do whatever you can for me 
personally. So far our friendship has consisted of words, 
not deeds. Were those words sincere ? If so, translate 
them into deeds. As a friend therefore I beg you to 
release all the contractors at once. And, as a friend, I 
equally trust that the question of the supplies may not 
be made too difficult.'* 

The happy ending to this annoying episode was the 
release of the offending contractors and a withdrawal of 
all obstruction in the matter of supplies. At a later 
meeting I congratulated my friend on his ready solution 
of the difficulty, and he suggested that if the great nations 
now at war had been only half as sensible as he and I 
were, there would not have been any war. Which is 
a fact. 

I have given a general idea of what I may call the 
pleasant meetings. But there were other categories which 
were most unpleasant, those with the leading merchants, 
and those with the leading politicians. 



WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS 97 

The merchants were cheerful and effusive, but had 
none of the charm of the refined Persian gentleman, and 
they had no views on any subject outside their little 
business. The sentimental business man is a type not 
yet developed, more's the pity. I was generally able to 
bring an uninteresting meeting with such gentry to an 
abrupt close by referring to the horrors of the famine, 
and suggesting a handsome contribution from them for 
the purpose of famine relief. 

The politicians were mostly men of humble origin, 
some genuine idealists, some who were only " in it for 
what they could get out of it." For a long time they 
fought against coming to my tea-parties, but in the end 
they were brought along in twos and threes until at last 
the uncompromising leader himself, Ferid-ud-Dowleh, was 
persuaded to put in an appearance, and we spent a most 
cheerful afternoon together. The extraordinary diffi- 
culties involved in inducing these people to enter into 
any sort of relations, even purely social, with their avowed 
enemy, was chiefly overcome by Mr. Moir, who acted as 
political adviser to me, and with a great command of 
the language and intimate knowledge of Persian customs 
was able to work wonders. Mr. Moir had been working 
in Persia for years as representative of a large business 
firm and also in the capacity of Vice-Consul, and had now 
thrown in his lot with my mission, where his services 
continued to be of great value throughout the operations. 
I was also very greatly helped by one of my Persian 
friends. 

These meetings were only useful as helping to form 
an estimate of character, and as tending to abate in a 
very small degree the virulence of the agitators. I had 
no hope or desire of converting the conspirators, but I 
brought them to a frame of mind which rendered them 
less anxious to conspire. 

The intelligence office under Captain Saunders waa 

8 



98 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

now achieving such success that there was practically 
no information I required that I did not get. In all 
such work money plays a great part, but money alone 
will not achieve the best results ; there has to be a good 
deal of inspiration both on the part of the Staff and of 
the people they employ, and a very complete system 
of counter-check to avoid the acceptance of false or 
misleading information. 

All this time there was a Turkish Consul just a hundred 
miles away, with a military escort strong enough to wipe 
my party off the map ; but the fighting spirit had quite 
left the Turks since the fall of Baghdad, and with his 
exaggerated notion of my strength he was more afraid 
of me than I was of him. 

This official was naturally in touch with the Turkish 
Legation in Teheran and spent a great deal of time and 
money in telegraphing to them. These telegrams had to 
pass through Hamadan, and without any treachery on 
the part of the telegraph officials we secured them all. 
Some were in plain language and were useful to us, others 
were in a cipher of which we did not yet possess the key. 
The result of our manipulation of these telegrams was a 
plaintive appeal sent by special secret messenger from the 
Turkish Consul to the head of the telegraph office at 
Hamadan, to this efPect : " What has happened to your 
office ? It does not seem to be working properly. I 
have received by messenger from one of my agents the 
information that of nine telegrams lately sent to Teheran 
two have altogether failed to reach, and the seven that 
reached are altogether undecipherable. The fact of the 
two being missing is traceable from my numbers. Will 
you please be more careful in future." One might have 
expected the Consul to have guessed the answer to this 
very easy riddle : he probably solved the problem later. 

With such a complete and reliable system it was easy 
to secure documentary evidence of the state of mind 



WE GET TO KNOW OUR HOSTS 99 

and aims of the local Democratic Committee, headed 
by Ferid-ud-Dowleh. Their correspondence was most 
enlightening and enabled me to appreciate the local 
political situation with accuracy. Letters passed 
almost daily between the leaders and Kuchik Khan 
in one direction and between them and the Turkish 
Legation on the other, and most of these letters passed 
through my hands. 

To the former they wrote somewhat in this strain: 
" The British are here, but in very small numbers. At 
a sign from you we can rise and destroy them, but you 
should send some of your soldiers to help ; we have not 
many fighting men here, and the British are well armed. 
All the people of the town and most of the leaders are 
heartily in your favour, and we only await your signal. 
We are short of funds." To the latter they wrote : " The 
British force here is a small one. We hear that German 
troops are being passed through Baku by the Russians. 
When they come, if you could send some here, we could 
easily destroy the small British garrison and all the other 
English here. Or send some Turkish troops. We do all 
we can to help the aims of the Germans and yourselves 
and are ready at a moment's notice to lay down our lives 
for the cause. We could accomplish more if we had more 
money." These letters show that the politicians realized 
our weakness better than the officials did. Their common 
final note is a sear c Wight on Persian politics. 

With a good deal of such information at my disposal 
I was thoroughly prepared for my guests at the afternoon 
tea-parties. One party took place within a few hours of 
the writing and dispatch of two such letters as the above, 
and I was privileged to read these letters just before my 
guests arrived. After a considerable discussion of such 
topics as the weather and the famine I changed the subject 
to a direct inquiry concerning Kuchik and the Turks. 
The fact that my guests lied to me is of course not 



100 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

remarkable ; had they been the most upright people 
in the world they could not have been expected to give 
truthful answers to my questions, and to have done so 
would have been to betray their own cause. But with 
letters in my hand containing their very latest expressions 
of opinion, their falsehoods were distinctly entertaining. 
It would have been still more amusing had I confronted 
them with their actual letters with all their signatures 
attached. There were occasions later when it paid to 
do this ; to do so at the present moment would be to 
acquaint them with the fact that their letters were falling 
into our hands, which would at once dry up this fount 
of information. 

" I hear a great deal," I went on, " in the shape of 
rumours in the town of your hostility to my mission here. 
I pay no attention to such rumours, but of course we have 
to face facts. You naturally resent our presence here ; 
we regret that it is unavoidable. You obviously sym- 
pathize with Kuchik Khan ; why shouldn't you ? You 
are democrats, and he is said to be the chief of democrats. 
But you might remember also that I am a democrat, in 
the sense that I represent the only truly democratic 
country in the world, and in a way I sympathize with 
Kuchik. The only mistake he makes is in making 
an enemy of me and closing the road to the Caspian : 
that will in the end get him into trouble." 

Loud murmurings of dissent greeted this speech. 
" What baseless rumours ! what fanciful ideas ! How 
could we possibly sympathize with Kuchik Khan, who is 
an upstart and endeavouring to lead a revolution, whereas 
we represent law and order." 

" But you must very strongly resent our intrusion 
here, although we have most excellent reasons for it, 
and I understand from placards and manifestoes that 
you intend to murder us all in our beds. The Jangalis 
might help you to do that." More protestations of inno- 



WE GET TO KNOW* OTJTR HOISTS ^^^'^tOI 

cence ensued, and I switched off on to the question of their 
most right and justifiable love for the Germans and the 
Turks. " The great advantage of having the German 
or Turks, or both, here in preference to ourselves is that 
by this means you ensure stability of government. We 
have no intention of staying here, and our eventual 
withdrawal after we have won the war would throw you 
back again into the chaos which is the normal state of 
Persia. Now with the Germans and Turks there would 
be no risk of that. Once here they are here till the crack 
of doom, and a stable form of government is assured in 
perpetuity. German rule would be a nice bracing tonic 
for Persians who, as you yourselves complain, are too 
lethargic. There won't be any lethargy left when you've 
had a dose of Kultur. And as to the Turks, well ! you 
know more about them and their methods of government 
than I can tell you. Still, all these advantages are only 
to be gained if the Germans win the war, and they won't. 
Therefore I think that on the whole your leaning to 
them and antagonism to us is not going to do you any 
good." This produced quite a volley of negatives. 
" What an unheard of thing to suggest that we have any 
sort of leanings towards those horrible Germans whom 
we loathe and the Turks whom we despise. We have 
the greatest admiration for the British, but we are a 
neutral country, and you must leave Persia at once. 
We intend no open hostility to you and will even offer 
you protection in case of trouble, but the people of the 
town are fierce and will not be controlled by us." 

This will suffice to give an idea of the entertaining 
conversations with which we whiled away the pleasant 
hours. They were both amusing and useful to me — I 
doubt if they were useful to the democrats, but they 
must have been extraordinarily amusing. To think how 
easily the British General had swallowed all that stuff 
about their hating Kuchik and loathing the Germans and 
Turks ! Ha ! ha ! 



CHAPTER VII 
FAMINE 

IT is hard to convey to any one who has never been 
in a famine even the faintest idea of the horrors 
that dearth of food entails. In the struggle for existence 
the human side of nature gets thrust out of sight and 
only the animal, like a ravening wolf, remains. 

Many may be acquainted with famine conditions 
in a country like India where, however great the suffering 
may be, the Government undertakes full responsibility, 
and private charity properly organized assists in the 
endeavour to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. 
Even then the misery is appalling. But imagine what 
the conditions must be in a country like Persia, where 
the State makes no effort and where private charity 
would be regarded as lunacy. 

Signs of the famine had greeted us at the very outset 
of our journey in January when we encountered the dead 
and dying on the road, and passed through half-ruined 
villages with their starving inhabitants. But as time 
went on conditions went from bad to worse, and it was 
obvious that the distress must increase until the reaping 
of the next harvest some six months hence. 

The famine was due to many causes. Firstly, owing 
to war conditions and bad weather, the harvest of 1917 
had been a bad one. Secondly, the demands of the 

102 



FAMINE 108 

troops, Turkish and Russian, had been considerable 
and had much reduced the quantity of grain on 
the market. Thirdly, the extraordinary rise in price had 
opened such vistas of wealth to the landowners and 
grain dealers that they had made a ring with a view 
to keeping these prices up and forcing them still 
higher ; and although there was always wheat enough 
for the food of the people, the holders of wheat refused 
to put their stocks on the market, waiting for still 
better prices, regardless of the fact that every fractional 
rise in price meant a large increase in the death- 
rate among the very poor. The wheat was there, but 
not the money to pay for it. 

The apathy of the townspeople of Hamadan was 
extraordinary. Among the population of 50,000 over 
30 per cent, were on the verge of starvation and for a 
very large percentage death was inevitable. But Hama- 
dan contains a very large number of wealthy people, 
and the well-to-do community could easily have saved 
their poorer brethren from starvation had they but 
parted with a very small percentage of the enormous 
profits they had already made out of wheat transactions. 
But not only would they take no steps themselves, but 
when I took the steps for them I had the greatest 
difficulty in getting prominent men even to assist 
in the organization of the gangs, distribution of 
tickets, etc. 

When we arrived in Hamadan there were already two 
centres of famine relief at work, one at the Imperial Bank 
of Persia and the other at the American Mission ; but 
the numbers they were able to deal with fell far short of 
the 15,000 people who were in acute distress. These 
relief centres were run on purely charitable lines, no 
work being exacted and no money paid, but good food 
issued on tickets. 

The relief I proposed to undertake would be on the 



104 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

lines of cash payment for a day's labour, without 
demanding any special standard of work. 

The most suitable form of famine relief work appeared 
to be the construction of new roads and the improve- 
ment of those already existing in the neighbourhood. I 
therefore begged that a sum might be allotted for this 
purpose, and my request was sanctioned without delay. 

Having received permission to incur the necessary 
expenditure, all that remained was to get the men to 
work. None of us had any experience of famine relief 
work, and the problem before us appeared fairly simple ; 
but it was not. The problem was this : "In this town 
are, say, 10,000 men and boys on the verge of starvation. 
Of these we can employ 5,000 ; but these 5,000 must 
be chosen only from the very poorest. How can we be 
certain of getting the poorest ? How can we best notify 
conditions as to work, time, place, etc ? How can we 
ensure the men we want turning up and no others ? 
With so few officers superintending and such large 
gangs at work, how can we be certain that the men 
we pay out at pay-time are the men who actually did 
the work ? " 

These are not the only questions we had to ask 
ourselves ; there were a great many more, but 
these were perhaps the main problems, a solution of 
which was indispensable to satisfactory commencement 
of the work. 

In discussing this on paper I may be giving the false 
idea that we had carefully considered all these questions 
beforehand. We did nothing of the sort, and only 
realized the necessity for various lines of action as we 
learnt day by day by sad experience. 

There were too many other things to be attended to, 
and it was not possible to devote oneself entirely to the 
problems of famine relief. We were even ignorant of 
the numbers to be dealt with, as to which it was not 



FAMINE 105 

feasible to obtain any reliable estimate ; we could only 
find out by trial. 

Our earlier efforts were great failures, but we soon 
got things in order, and in the end achieved remarkable 
success. 

For the first day's work no one seemed quite certain 
if the people would turn out at all, and we were certainly 
quite unprepared for the enormous crowd of applicants 
we had to deal with. It was announced in the town 
on the previous evening that the British desired to have 
some work done on the roads and would pay workers 
three krans a day, that the work was intended to help 
the starving people, that only the very poorest would 
be accepted, and that intending workers were to 
assemble at a spot near the eastern exits of the town 
at 8 a.m. 

At the appointed hour on the next day I sent Captain 
John, with two other officers to assist him, to start the 
day's proceedings. The instructions I gave him were 
these : *' As soon as you get your men assembled make 
them sit down in rows. Pick out all the robust ones 
and send them back to the town till you have reduced 
the numbers down to the level we can afford to pay. 
Divide up into gangs of fifty, choose a likely man as 
head of each gang and get to work." 

There was not for a moment any doubt as to the 
number of people applying for work. The entire town 
rose as one man and rushed to the rendezvous, the 
unfortunate officers were overwhelmed and lucky to get 
out alive, although the disappointed crowd showed no 
malice. There was nothing to do but to give up any 
further effort for that day and try again to-morrow, 
having in the meantime thought things out a little more 
and issued further explanatory proclamations in the 
town. 

Tickets were also printed, to be given out on the 



106 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

ground to each man before commencing work and to 
be presented by him as a coupon for payment at the 
end of the day. 

The next day, with a strong escort of drivers, Captain 
John again proceeded to his task, but again returned 
reporting a failure. 

I was not pleased with this repeated lack of success, 
and explained to the officer in charge that it was simply 
owing to his lack of ordinary intelligence. Colonel 
Duncan quite agreed with my reproaches and added, 
*' The mistake you make is in not making the men sit 
down. Once they are sitting it is quite easy to keep 
order." 

The next day again I received a despairing message 
from Captain John to say that he was powerless to do 
anything with the mob. I replied that I would send 
Colonel Duncan out to show him how to do it. 

So Colonel Duncan forthwith proceeded and, after 
making some such remark as " Now you watch me," 
addressed the crowd in Persian, as follows : "Sit down, 
sit down, sit down ! Nothing till you sit down. Sit 
down ! " Whereupon the crowd of several thousands 
sat down. Then the interpreter announced, "The gentle- 
man will now give tickets to those who are entitled to 
work. No one must move, all must remain seated." 

Perfect order reigned, and a triumphant smile 
enlivened the features of the Staff Officer. " Now 
all you have to do is for each of you to go round with 
a bundle of tickets and issue them to the most 
hungry - looking " ; with which remark he stepped 
forward with one ticket in his hand to demonstrate 
the process. In one moment the whole six thousand 
were on top of him, and he returned sadder but 
wiser, admitting another failure, after having been 
severely trampled on. 

Our next scheme was to issue tickets the evening 



FAMINE 107 

before through the Consul and any of the prominent 
citizens of the town who would undertake to be respon- 
sible for the various quarters in which they resided. 
From this time on things worked more or less satisfac- 
torily. But in manipulating any charitable scheme the 
whole world seems to be against you ; genuine helpers 
there were none, and the recipients of the charity were 
as bad as any in their dishonesty. The great difficulty 
was to ensure that only the poorest got the tickets ; but 
the poorest are the weakest, and the weakest go to the 
wall, and it was hard to prevent fairly robust men coming 
to the works while the really starving were j)ushed out 
in the scramble for tickets. 

Then there was a traffic in tickets which we were 
powerless to stop. Assuming that one of the men 
deputed to issue tickets acted conscientiously in 
his distribution, he could never be sure that the same 
applicant had not been up three times and received 
three tickets. Or, if he were not conscientious, there 
was nothing to prevent him from giving five tickets 
straightaway to any favoured individual. 

These tickets gave the right to work for one day and 
receive a payment of three krans ; the normal value of 
a kran is a little less than fivepence. The lucky holder 
of five tickets could go round the town, sell the five 
tickets for one kran each, enabling the purchasers to earn 
two krans by putting in a day's work on the roads, while 
he pocketed five krans without having to do any work 
at all. Nothing could put a stop to this kind of fraud 
except the co-operation of the well-to-do Persians, but 
so far there was no sign of any desire on their part to 
help us. I had already begged the Governor, the other 
officials and all the big men of the town to show some 
interest in the scheme, but they showed none. The only 
sign of interest displayed by notables came from the poli- 
ticians, and took the form of the most active opposition. 



108 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

They realized that I was fulfilling the promise of my 
proclamation, in which I had stated that the British 
always interested themselves in the welfare of the people ; 
they saw that we were gaining in popularity, and they 
infinitely preferred the death of their neighbours to such 
an undesirable contingency. It was the same unuttered 
thought of all revolutionaries: " Life must be sacrificed 
in this good cause ; so let any life but mine be freely 
offered up." 

The next step of our opponents was that when I had 
provided the starving people with money to buy bread, 
they closed the bakers' shops by intimidation and 
insisted on the people dying " in a good cause." This 
difficulty we also overcame. 

Then there was further trouble on the ground. With 
so few officers to supervise, how could we be sure that 
the ticket -holders did any work at all ? It was hard to 
prevent a man from getting his ticket, sneaking off into 
the town and either selling it or turning up himself at 
pay-time after having done no work. And work was 
only exacted in proportion to strength. Some were 
only capable of pretending to work as we came along 
to inspect, feebly patting the ground with a small imple- 
ment, and ceasing this effort as soon as we had passed. 
Of these a certain number lay dead on the ground by 
the time the day's pay came to be issued. It seems 
horrible that men should have to work under such 
conditions, but Government funds are not available for 
issue in the form of simple charity, though we got as 
close to that as we conscientiously could. 

As time went on the deaths entirely ceased and 
within only a few days each man w'as capable of doing 
some appreciable work without over-exerting himself, 
and no Persian is prone to over-exertion. 

Our system of having gangers to each fifty was the 
only workable one ; but the gangers were not to be 



FAMINE 109 

trusted, and they probably got their mite out of each 
member of the gang. The most we could do to thwart 
this was to make all payments ourselves direct to the 
workers, a British officer actually putting each man's 
money into his hands ; but this would not prevent the 
ganger from applying afterwards what the Chinese 
appropriately call " Squeeze." This task of direct 
payment by an officer was very toilsome, but we never 
swerved from it. 

We employed no women, and it was now suggested 
that while we were giving each man the bare amount 
to support his own life, there was nothing over for his 
family, who starved as before. This difficulty was over- 
come in a very simple way, by increasing the value of 
each ticket to an extent that would enable the worker 
to buy enough bread for his wife and children as well 
as himself. 

Like all these simple solutions, this was doomed to 
instant failure and had to be at once withdrawn. What 
we intended to happen did not happen, and instead the 
result was wholly unfortunate. The agricultural labourers 
who were just making both ends meet in the surrounding 
villages, hearing of the good wages I was paying, flooded 
the town, elbowed the starving townsmen out of the 
way and secured a large proportion of the tickets. My 
intended boon to the poor had a quite contrary result 
and had to be withdrawn. Any one of experience would 
have foreseen all this, but we had no experience and had 
to learn as we went along. 

By the time the second party — the first addition to 
our force — arrived, we had got things going fairly well, 
but were still hampered by paucity of officers for super- 
vision. I entrusted the future working of the scheme 
entirely to General Byron, who was very soon able to 
introduce many much-needed improvements. Arrange- 
ments were made for a portion of the wage to be paid 



110 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

in cash, and the remainder issued in the shape of food 
from soup kitchens established in the town. The reduc- 
tion in cash payments, while supplying food in kind to 
the workers, helped very much to eliminate the stronger 
members who had hitherto been our chief difficulty. 
They wanted the cash only, and the necessity of drawing 
part payment in the shape of food from the soup kitchens 
successfully choked them off. 

The work on which the officers and N.C.O.'s were 
engaged was undoubtedly a noble one, but it was the 
exact reverse of any task which these essentially fighting 
men had expected. Chosen especially for their martial 
qualities, and panting to achieve " The bubble reputa- 
tion at the cannon's mouth," it was indeed a dispiriting 
step on the path to glory to find themselves dumped 
down in a Persian village, issuing soup to the poor. All 
I could do was to cheer them by putting before them 
the prospect of more lively events later. 

Cases of cannibalism were not uncommon, and the 
punishment of such offenders as were detected was worse 
than the crime. It is easy for a mullah with a full stomach 
to condemn to death miserable beings who are insane 
from the pangs of hunger. Two culprits, a mother and 
daughter, who had cooked and eaten one of the family 
(a boy six years of age) were stoned to death in front 
of the telegraph office by order of the religious authorities. 
In this case the offenders were women, who are of small 
account ; and they had eaten a male child. There may 
have been cases equally bad where the culprits were male 
and the victims female, but I know of none such being 
brought to light. It was always the women who were 
brought up. 

We are taught from early youth that only properly 
organized charity is of any avail, and that fortuitous 
charity does more harm than good. It is impossible 
always to act up to principles, and the extreme pleasure 



FAMINE 111 

of being able to relieve the immediate sufferings of some 
wretched individual is apt to lead into indiscretion. Such 
a case occurred to me and gave me a lesson which I shall 
remember for the rest of my life. 

I was walking through the bazaars with my friend 
Haji Saad-es-Sultaneh when we came opposite a bread- 
shop, where the long strips of "Sangak," or Persian 
chupatty, were hanging temptingly on pegs, looking 
more like dirty cloths than bread. In front of the shop 
was an emaciated child of about nine, looking longingly 
at the bread with its eyes half out of its head. I looked 
round and saw there was no sign of any other beggars 
in the street, fearing that, if there were, any gift to the 
child might cause a scramble. The temptation was too 
strong to resist and I hastily paid for a large chupatty 
(they are about five times the size of the biggest Indian 
specimens), and presented it to the wretched infant. 
In one instant the whole bazaar was in a state of pande- 
monium, hosts of starving people, hitherto invisible, 
appeared to drop from the sky, and before I could realize 
what was happening the unfortunate holder of the prize 
was literally buried beneath a mass of fighting and 
screaming humanity, each with murder in his heart 
trying to obtain possession of a morsel of the food. 
" Beastly ! " you may say. But why malign the beasts ? 

The restoration of order was a difficult task. With- 
out aid the owner of the bread would undoubtedly have 
been killed ; as it was the bread was torn to scraps, 
rubbed into the mud of the road and the fragments 
swallowed whole by the lucky holders, in the intervals 
of fighting, scratching, biting and strangling each other. 
There was not one that was not covered with blood. 

The work was continued till the harvest was at hand, 
when the holders of grain stocks began to release them, 
proving thereby the correctness of my previous state- 
ment that there was plenty of wheat in the country 



112 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

which I could have drawn on if I had been able to apply 
military force to bring it on to the market. 

In the early days of famine relief it could not be 
expected that the workers would show much return for 
the expenditure ; in fact, for one month we did little 
more than keep them alive. After that, rapid progress 
was made and much useful road-work undertaken. The 
first task was the construction of a road entirely 
encircling the huge straggling town. The advantages of 
such a road were very great both from the point of view 
of tactics and also of general convenience of convoys, 
of which there would be many when the hoped-for troops 
began to move up. Without such a road a driver who 
approaches a Persian town from one side with a view 
of reaching some place on the other, is very severely 
handicapped ; to find his way, for instance, without 
being able to speak the language, through the tortuous 
streets of Hamadan, would be well-nigh impossible. 
Added to this is the fact that in many streets only the 
smallest cars could get through, and big lorries would 
get stuck. By means of the circular road, lorries could 
pass rapidly and without hindrance from any one point 
to another, and in case of trouble in the town the 
armoured cars could get round to any point in a very 
short time, avoiding the risk and difficulty of forcing 
their way through the narrow streets. The next road 
undertaken led from the upper ground where we were 
billeted to the aeroplane ground on the low plain east 
of the town. The remainder of the work consisted in 
a general improvement of existing roads. 

Up till March 28th all the various tasks described 
up to this point were undertaken by the small original 
party, and our days were more than busy. On the 28th 
and 29th the thirty rifles of the Hants and the aero- 
plane had arrived, and from this date our position might 
be regarded as secure. The time when the hostile demo- 




A COUKTYAKI) IX THE BaZAAK, HAMAUAN 



FAMINE 118 

crats might have hoped to have attacked us with some 
prospect of success was gone for ever, and the feelings 
not only of the townspeople but also of the surrounding 
districts had changed from an attitude of suspicion and 
hostility to one of honest liking for the new-comers. Our 
agents returning from far-off villages in Kurdistan and 
elsewhere brought back tidings of our reflected glory in 
the form of bazaar reports in those neighbourhoods, that 
we had done wonderful things with the famine in Hama- 
dan, and intended shortly to extend our charitable opera- 
tions over the whole province, a hope which it was quite 
impossible for us to convert into a fact. We had been 
able to do much for Hamadan where we felt it incumbent 
on us to do what we could, but the whole of North Persia 
was famine-stricken, and the horrors of other towns 
and villages equalled or exceeded those of Hamadan. 
The fame of our relief works spread down even as far 
as Gilan, and Kuchik Khan, in his pose as an enlightened 
ruler, felt called on to undertake relief work on some- 
what similar lines but on a smaller scale. 

At the beginning of April, as it was now certain that 
either myself or my second-in-command would be in 
Hamadan for a long time, I shifted my quarters from the 
hospitable dwelling of the McMurrays and set up my 
own establishment in a small house lent me by the 
Bank. 

About this time the constant firing at night which 
was carried out with a view of terrifying us ceased almost 
entirely. It had never been very dangerous, the shots 
being always unaimed, except one or two which struck 
my bungalow but did not even break a pane of glass. 

On April 24th arrived a squadron of the 14th Hussars, 
under Captain Pope. 

Supplies were now easier to obtain and Captain 
Campbell, the Supply Officer, was able to report that 
our stocks had reached a figure that made the prospect 

9 



114 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

of any further crisis very remote. Even if supplies were 
not always easily obtainable we knew where the wheat 
hoards were, and only required troops to insist on their 
surrender at a fair price. Thus, except for the bacon 
and jam part of the ration, we could guarantee to feed 
a large number of troops without difficulty. 

As soon as the snow began to melt on the lower 
hills I sent a small party under Captain Hooper to examine 
and report on the road over the Asadabad Pass. The 
party consisted of three officers and two drivers, and 
while carrying out their task of reconnaissance they 
became engaged in a very minor military operation. 
Half-way up the pass it was found that the cars could 
proceed no farther, and a halt was ordered, to enable 
the party to examine the road on foot. At this point 
a descending caravan of pack donkeys was encountered, 
and the owners complained that they had just been looted 
by thieves who had taken refuge in a village near by. 
As it would be necessary to get labour for road improve- 
ments from these villages close to the road. Captain 
Hooper decided to inquire about the prospects of obtain- 
ing coolie gangs here, and with this view moved with 
his little party, leaving one man in charge of the cars, 
towards the village, expecting at the same time to run 
into the robber band. 

If the robbers had kept quiet nothing would have 
happened, but on seeing the approach of the very small 
party their guilty consciences led them to decide on 
flight. They emerged from a house on the outskirts of 
the village and fled towards the hills, pursued by all the 
villagers and the plundered merchants, who overtook 
them, gave them a sound hammering and recovered the 
stolen property. 

The amusing thing about all this is, that what the 
villagers and merchants accomplished with merely the 
moral support of one or two men with rifles, they could 



FAMINE 115 

have equally accomplished without, another example of 
the effect of lack of leadership. 

It was not Captain Hooper's duty to interfere in a 
case of this sort, the policing of Persia forming no part 
of our responsibilities, but the movement in the direction 
of the robber band coincided with the legitimate move- 
ment towards the village for other purposes. The 
guilty consciences of the bandits settled the rest of the 
matter. 

On April 21st the real advent of spring was heralded 
by the appearance of the first blossoms on the fruit-trees, 
and we were glad to feel that we had said good-bye to 
the snow. Two days later an Armenian doctor arrived 
from Baku, bringing suggestions from the Armenian 
National Council there with regard to possibilities of 
our helping to put things straight in that part of the 
world. 

The Bolshevik Government was still in power under 
the leadership of an Armenian named Shaumian, but 
there was a growing feeling on the part of the people 
against them, and their influence was distinctly on the 
wane. Very serious disturbances had broken out in 
March in connection with the disarming on arrival at 
Baku of troops from Persia, street-fighting had ensued 
and a large number of very valuable buildings in the 
Tartar quarter had been destroyed by Armenian troops. 
The result of this was naturally to accentuate the animosity 
already existing between the Tartars and the Armenians, 
and to make the plight of the latter very unenviable in 
the event of the Turks eventually taking Baku. The 
British Consul, Mr. MacDonnell, was still in the town, 
and he was able to furnish very useful statements 
concerning the situation. 

The schemes propounded by the doctor were all based 
upon British military support in the shape of actual troops, 
and he stated that he was not authorized to accept our 



I 



116 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

aid merely in the form of leaders and organizers. I had 
to make it very clear to him that I had no troops and 
could make no promises as to the dispatch of troops 
from Baghdad. So we could agree upon no plan suitable 
to both parties, and nothing came of our conversation. 

On this day a Turkish naval oflficer surrendered to 
us. He was tired of wandering about Persia and wanted 
decent food and a rest-cure. It is not likely that he had 
been actively engaged in any of the enemy schemes in 
this part of the world, but it was just as well to have 
him out of the way. 

On May 1st we had news of the entry of the Turks 
into Tabriz, a move that we had long been expecting and 
that might threaten our position at Kasvin, if they had 
the energy to push down the Mianeh-Zinjan road towards 
that town ; and there was nothing to stop their doing 
this. The move was obvious, but indecision on the part 
of the Turkish Commander fortunately delayed it until 
September. 

Having firmly established ourselves in Hamadan we 
might now hope to secure a similar position in Kasvin, 
and I accordingly dispatched a small party of officers 
and N.C.O.'s under Major Hay, to get a footing there, 
spy out the land, start famine relief and reconnoitre 
for billets and supplies. I purposely made the thin end 
of the wedge as thin as possible, but to make some small 
display of force in this direction I also dispatched the 
squadron of the 14th Hussars, who went into camp at 
Sultanabad, about 5 miles on our side of Kasvin. 

The third party had now arrived, and provided 
sufficient personnel to enable us to undertake further 
enterprises. With a view to thwarting Turkish efforts 
to win over the Kurds and other tribes lying between 
them and us, and to raising levies and irregulars among 
these tribes for our own purposes, I dispatched Major 
Starnes with a party to Bijar, 100 miles north-west of 



FAMINE 117 

Hamadan, and Major Wagstaff with a similar party and 
and an armoured car to Zinjan, a little more than 100 
miles west of Kasvin on the road to Tabriz. These 
two parties, consisting only of officers and N.C.O.'s with- 
out troops were dangerously weak, but it was all we could 
do at the time, and with the Turks already in Tabriz and 
also threatening an advance towards Hamadan from the 
direction of Sauj-Bulaq, south of Lake Urumiah, I hoped 
that this very weak screen would for a time at least baffle 
their enterprises in our direction, while the possession 
of Zinjan would stop the artery by which Turkish agents 
were communicating with Kuchik Khan and supplying 
him with arms and ammunition. 

Having set on foot arrangements for the raising of 
local levies I decided to visit Kasvin and see how our 
small party were faring there, and what could be hoped 
for in the way of recruits for levies in that neighbour- 
hood. I was also anxious to get to Teheran for a few 
days to try and get a grip of the internal situation, and 
obtain the Minister's advice on the subject of the levies 
and other kindred matters. 

I accordingly left Hamadan on May 12th, accompanied 
by Captain Saunders and Captain Topham, who had 
now taken over the duties of A.D.C. 



CHAPTER VIII 
A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 

BEFORE leaving Hamadan for Kasvin I wrote a 
letter, in which I endeavoured to make as clear 
as I could how things stood at the time of writing. The 
following extracts from the letter in question will probably 
be of general interest, and help the reader to form a 
correct mental picture of the general outlook. 

"Hamadan, 

''May 5, 1918. 

". . . There are so many situations here, that it is 
difficult to give a full appreciation of each. There is 
the local situation, the all-Persia situation, the Jangali 
situation, the Persian-Russian situation, the Turkish- 
advance-on-Tabriz situation, the question of liquidating 
Russian debts, the Baku situation, the South Caucasus 
situation, the North Caucasus situation, the Bolshevik 
situation and the Russian situation as a whole. And 
each of these subdivides into smaller and acuter situations 
— for there is no real Caucasian or even North or South 
Caucasian point of view, there is no unity of thought 
or action, nothing but mutual jealousy and mistrust. 
Thus the Georgians of Tiflis regard the problem from a 
Georgian point of view and play only for their own hand ; 
the Armenians and the Tartars in the south, and the 
Terek and Kuban Cossacks and the Daghestanis in the 

118 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 119 

north, do the same. And not even these small races can 
agree among themselves as to any line of policy, because 
they have two distinct lines of thought, that of the 
greybeards who cling to the traditions of their fore- 
fathers, and that of the young bloods who think 
everything contemptible that is not brand new. This 
applies with especial force to the Cossacks, who have 
hitherto been entirely ruled by a council of elders. 

"Bolshevism is far from being firmly rooted in the 
Caucasus, but its malevolent tendencies have permeated 
the blood of all the races in this part of the world : the 
present ultra-democratic movement in Persia is really 
the same spirit as Bolshevism. The name is new, but 
the spirit is the old spirit of revolution, the spirit of 
men gone mad. * What is yours is mine and what is 
mine is my own ; all men are equal and brothers ; discipline 
and control are contrary to the spirit of freedom, and all 
men are free.' And out of this always emerges the insane 
doctrine : * The more blood we can shed the freer we shall 
be ; and it doesn't matter whose blood it is as long as 
it isn't ours.' The mobs are bloodthirsty and cowardly 
and are at the mercy of any disciplined force, however 
small. 

** Here, to begin with, the situation is enormously im- 
proved. As regards troops, I have at present one squadron 
of cavalry and two armoured cars at Kasvin and fifty 
rifles and two light armoured motor-cars here. The 
detachment of fifty rifles 1/4 Hants Regt. have no nights 
in bed, being all used up to furnish ordinary guards and 
to guard the numerous prisoners I collect. I have at 
present one Russian officer suspect, one German civilian 
sp3% one Turkish naval officer, two Turkish soldiers and 
four Indian deserters. I have to use N.C.O.'s as privates 
and officers as N.C.O.'s. 

" Being practically without troops my weapons have 
been propaganda, winning over leaders by personal 



120 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

methods, and also famine relief work. All of these have 
been successful and have resulted in turning the inhabitants 
of this district from an attitude of hostility to one of 
marked friendliness. Unfortunately the forces of good 
are always more or less passive and the forces of evil 
are extremely active, so that while in this town of 
50,000 inhabitants I have 49,950 well-wishers, there is a 
nucleus of fifty sincere haters who have the power to 
cause a great deal of trouble. By an excellent system 
of intelligence worked by Saunders I know the details 
of all their plots, and we are so far able to counter 
them. 

** Occasional shots are fired at officers, and they have 
sometimes sniped my house at night with the object of 
terrifying me. I have no troops to spare for a guard. 
I have been informed that I shall be shot in the town 
some day, but there has been no attempt to put this 
threat into execution. I have made friends with the 
leading democrats, but get little results from that, as, 
so far from my friendship with them leading to friendly 
relations with the democrats in general, it merely has 
the effect of putting the other democrats against 
them. 

" One of my friends, a high Government official, called 
on me the other day and showed me a threatening letter 
he had received — written in red ink to suggest blood, 
and with a picture of a Mauser pistol at the top of it. 
The letter said that it was obvious that he had sold 
himself for money to the English and if he continued 
to visit me he would be shot. 

** On the other hand the fame of the famine relief 
work has spread far beyond the limits of the district 
and is much spoken of in the bazaars of Sinneh and 
Bijar, which all helps the cause, and I have been able 
to improve existing roads and to construct some 9 or 
10 miles of useful communications. So on the whole 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 121 

the situation is as good as it can be under the 
circumstances. 

" The Persian situation fluctuates, but is never much 
in our favour. The people are attractive ; they are good 
workmen but lazy, and they have only one real political 
idea, fair terms for farmers and a guarantee of order. 
They have no other political ideas, but in their hatred 
of the present tyrannical system of landlordism they 
unconsciously become true democrats as opposed to the 
political democrat who does not know what the word 
means. Politically * Democracy ' is only a banner to 
wave, and the programme, so far from being democratic, 
is merely a stupid combination of an anti-European 
movement with an attempt to bring about disorder in 
which every poor man would hope to possess himself of 
the rich man's hoard. 

" The Jangali situation is quiescent and is perhaps 
reaching a point of stagnation owing to the fortunate 
interposition of Bicherakov's partisans ... at Kasvin 
and Menjil. It was an extraordinary piece of luck that 
his troops were late in evacuating, and I was able to get 
him to deal with the Jangali problem just in the nick of 
time. He reached Kasvin on March 28th about the date 
on which Kuchik was to have taken over the town un- 
opposed. Had Kuchik succeeded in that, Teheran would 
have raised the Jangali banner on the following day and 
North Persia would have gone. In the East a small 
success spreads like a flame, and Jangali sympathizers 
in Teheran include a portion of the Cabinet. Success 
would bring all the waverers in and Persia would have 
started another revolution. It has to be remembered 
with gratitude that although so far he has had no actual 
fighting, Bicherakov alone solved this very precarious 
situation. 

" I would like to meet Kuchik Khan personally and 
talk things over, but his German advisers would go to any 



122 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

length to prevent this. Meantime I hope to bring about a 
meeting between Stokes and a representative of Kuchik's, 
and we may perhaps come to a settlement. If one has 
no troops one has to try the tongue. Kuchik Khan 
himself is a man of humble origin, poses as a religious 
enthusiast and is not of much intelligence. He is, I 
rather think, a true patriot, which is rare in this land, 
but like many true patriots, goes the wrong way to 
achieve his objects and does not realize that he is being 
made a tool of. He has a nucleus of about twenty 
foreign officers, German, Turk and Russian, who he thinks 
are his servants but who really are the mainspring of his 
movement and are trying to push him over the precipice 
in order to achieve their own ends. Meanwhile he is at 
least clever enough to pause on the brink, and if I 
could only whisper a word in his ear I think he would 
be saved the fatal leap. 

" Bicherakov makes rather large financial demands, 
and the War Office asks if he is worth it. He cer- 
tainly is. I do not consider his demands exorbitant, 
when you realize the task he is accomplishing and the 
fact that he alone can do it. We have no alternative. 

" At present rates it costs but very little under one 
pound a day to feed a horse, bread and meat are one 
shilling and tenpence a pound, sugar three shillings and 
sixpence and tea four shillings and sixpence, so that a 
million krans, which looks a big figure, does not go very 
far. Whatever we pay him does not got into his pocket, 
but is honestly spent for military purposes, though with 
his system of accounts there may be a leakage among 
the subordinate grades. 

'* Mixed up A\ith his situation is the question of the 
liquidation of Russian debts. So far our Government 
has refused this peremptorily, but I have advocated it 
and still do so. . . . 

"... The Baku situation is obscure. It is separate 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 123 

from the Caucasus question generally. At present the 
Armenian colony there and the Bolsheviks are holding 
out against the Caucasus-Islam Army — The Georgians of 
Tiflis, who heartily dislike the Armenians, offer no help. 
How can we help them in any way that would hold out 
a chance of success ? It appears to me quite impossible. 
Troops alone could restore order — and we have no troops. 
A few officers, a few armoured cars and liberal finance 
would not turn the tide ; in fact such an effort would 
probably add fuel to the flames. 

" The South Caucasus situation has long been hopeless. 
They must go on killing each other until they are tired 
of it : we may then get a chance of pulling things 
together again. But for the moment the racial and 
religious animosities are so fierce, the spirit of Bol- 
shevism is so rampant and the usual mistrust of the 
supposedly self-seeking Britisher is so strong, that an 
opportunity for us to help seems far away. When they 
appeal to us for help they mean money, money, money. 
We are to them the goose that lays the golden egg. 
We should be temporarily popular with those who 
secured the egg, but we should get no real gratitude 
even from them, and we should earn the more 
intense hatred of the others. The North Caucasus is 
the same, but not to so acute a degree. There is less 
racial and religious hatred, but there is a hearty dislike 
of the South Caucasus and the poison of Bolshevism 
is also in their blood. The Bolshevik himself is not of 
much account ; but it must be remembered that those 
who fight against the Bolsheviks are themselves uncon- 
sciously impregnated with this vile spirit of Bolshevism 
— the poison innoculated unnoticed into their veins by 
the German propagandist. The Tiflis Government is 
anti-Bolshevik, but the members are probably as much 
inspired by Bolshevik ideals as the Bolsheviks themselves. 

" The famine here has been awful. The highest 



124 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

price I know of quoted for wheat has been 230 tomans, 
or about £70, for one kharwar=800 lb., the normal 
price being 12 tomans or, say, 70 shillings. We are 
buying forward crops at 40 tomans and hope to get 
some for less. Cases of cannibalism have occurred in 
the town. Many die daily, and men have sometimes 
died while actually on relief work. Now that the snow 
has melted and spring has begun the people go out and 
graze in the fields like cattle. 

"Meantime, though wheat and barley are short, they 
do exist. I could collect by force enough to feed the 
troops and stop the famine, but I have no force to employ. 
I know where the wheat is, but have difficulty in getting 
it. Firstly, the owner holds on in the hope of higher 
prices ; secondly, the villagers resent it being taken from 
a village while they starve ; thirdly, brigands attack grain 
convoys on the road ; fourthly, the extreme democrats 
threaten to kill any one who supplies the British ; and 
fifthly, the Governor shows me an order he has received 
from the Government at Teheran to the effect that he is 
to see that I get no supplies. ... In spite of this, supplies 
come in very well, and I could supply a Brigade in actual 
bread and meat between here and Menjil. There is a 
shortage also at Resht, but rice is obtainable there, and 
is much cheaper than wheat. The country is naturally 
rich in grain, fruit and sheep, and there will be no supply 
difficulty as soon as the new crop is in. At this elevation 
(6,500 to 7,000 feet) crops are late, but as soon as the 
lower harvests are reaped the prices will fall here and 
grain now hoarded will be released. 

" Lastly there is the matter of levies. Colonel Kennion 
(Political) guarantees the road from Qasr-i-Shirin to 
Asadabad, so I have given up the idea of raising levies 
from the local Kurds in that section. I am raising one 
group at Hamadan, and later intend one at Kasvin, 
each group to consist of one squadron of cavalry and two 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 125 

companies of infantry, total strength 600, with 6 British 
officers to each group. These levies will not take the 
place of regular troops, nor will they form road-guards. 
They Avill be used to deal with gangs of robbers, to round 
up German or Turk emissaries, of whom there are many 
actively employed in propaganda, and to garrison posts 
at dangerous places on the roads. 

** The Persian is not dangerous as a fighting man, but 
he will be more dangerous in this revolution than in the 
previous one, because the country is full of arms and 
ammunition sold by the Russian soldiers or taken from 
them, and also provided through German agencies. 

" The Turkish advance on Tabriz is not being very 
vigorously pressed, and we may be able with the aid 
of the Jilus and other tribes south of Lake Urumiah to 
thwart them entirely. I am sending in a day or two a 
party of twelve officers and eight N.C.O.'s towards Tabriz 
to organize this resistance. The recent very successful 
operations from Mesopotamia against the Sinjabis and 
the defeat of the Turks at Kifri and towards Kirkuk has 
enormously improved the situation in Kurdistan and in 
Persia generally, and will possibly also affect the Turkish 
advance south of Lake Urumiah. 

" The only opposition to the entry of our troops into 
Persia is political. The people are glad to see soldiers 
of a new type who . . . bring with them law and order. 
But even the political difficulty may eventually be over- 
'come. I am not aware of our Government's attitude 
towards the democratic movement in Persia, but I assume 
that we make the Persians feel that, being a democratic 
country ourselves, we cannot oppose a democratic move- 
ment in another country, and we are not out to support 
against them the other party of the big landowners. 
Nor do we desire the hostility of the latter, who have a 
more direct influence over the large numbers of people on 
their land than the democrats are ever likely to have. 



126 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

It is obviously difficult to support the moderate democrat 
without alienating the landowner, or at any rate without 
driving him into too hostile an attitude. It is perilously 
near to trying to run with the hare and hunt with the 
hounds. 

" I have collected about twenty Russian officers, very 
specially selected and all capable men, mostly aviators 
from the school at Baku, with a view to seizing any 
opportunity that may occur of our intervening in the 
Caucasus. Meantime they are useful in various ways and 
enable us to kee^D in touch with Baku and to get reliable 
information. 

" We have made several efforts to reach Pike at Tiflis, 
but have not succeeded in getting direct news of him for 
a long time. He and the remainder of ours, including 
Goldsmith as well as the French party under Colonel 
Chardigny, are probably either refugees or prisoners. . . . 

" The winter has been long and the cold very severe, 
but the snow has now melted, except on the hilltops, and 
spring has begun. Officers and men have kept well, and 
in spite of a very arduous time there have been only a 
few trifling cases of sickness among the first party. ..." 

Much of this letter is a recapitulation of events already 
described, but it will be useful as a means of taking stock 
of events up to date. 

My Staff was now strengthened by the addition of 
Lieut. -Colonel Stokes, who joined me as General Staff 
Officer, First Grade, for Intelligence duties. I considered 
it important to work up our information from the Teheran 
side and accordingly posted him to the capital, where 
he could work with the Military Attache at the Legation, 
constituting a liaison between my force and the diplomatic 
representative. 

Work in connection with the raising and training of 
the Persian levies and irregulars had begun by the end, 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 127 

of April, and I will explain in as few words as possible 
why it was thought advisable to raise them and how they 
were raised. 

The difference between the levies and irregulars may 
be explained briefly as follows. The levies were to be 
regularly formed units enlisted from the surrounding 
districts, and employed at a fixed salary, under British 
officers, in guarding dangerous points and defiles on the 
road, reconnoitring the country for enemy spies and 
agents, and furnishing escorts for any parties of mine 
moving at any great distance from Head Quarters. I 
knew that it would be useless to employ them against 
the Turks, and from the outset I had no intention 
of putting their valour to this test. They would be 
good enough to encounter robber bands, but were not 
likely to face the fire of any sort of regular troops. 

The irregulars, on the other hand, were meant to fight. 
They were to be raised from among the Kurds and other 
tribes lying along any probable line of Turkish advance. 
They were not to be formed into regular bodies, nor 
submitted to the regular training of a soldier as the 
levies were. 

Levies would be regularly formed and trained, would 
be liable to service anywhere, but could not be relied on 
to fight against the Turks. Irregulars were merely bands 
of tribesmen under British leadership, not liable to service 
anywhere but on their own ground, and organized only 
with a view of fighting the Turks and harassing their 
communications. 

Before we could do anything on the lines of " irregulars " 
it would be necessary to get thoroughly in touch with the 
tribes, and this was accomplished by the dispatch of 
Major Starnes' party to Bijar, and Major Wagstaff^s 
to Zinjan. But with the levies we could and did make 
an immediate start. 

In neither case did we contemplate arming these forces. 



128 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

There was no necessity to issue arms in a country where 
nearly every man possessed a good rifle and a quantity 
of ammunition. 

The disadvantages of not arming them were, firstly 
the heterogeneous nature of the arms employed, secondly 
the difficulties of ammunition supply during a fight, and 
thirdly the reluctance of each man as owner of his rifle 
and ammunition to risk losing the former and expending 
the latter. But the great advantage which outweighed 
all these considerations was that we were saved the trouble 
and difficulty of supplying the arms, and we removed the 
chief incentive to desertion. With no sort of civil control 
over the tribes, to issue rifles to men would have been to 
put a premium on desertions, and the men would have 
left for their homes, never to reappear, the day they 
received their rifles from us. 

As regards the other disadvantages mentioned above, 
rules were framed without great difficulty removing the 
reluctance to risk loss of arms or expenditure of ammu- 
nition by a system of rewards and compensation. Uniform 
was made up and issued on the spot, and in a few days 
Major Engledue and Captain Henderson, in charge of the 
first Hamadan group, were able to turn out some very 
stalwart-looking soldiers, who proved very useful in this 
land where " looks " go for so much. 

As regards the isolated picquets placed at points of 
danger on the road later on, these would probably have 
put up only a very feeble resistance to any sort of attack 
by well-armed robber bands, but here again we relied on 
*' looks," and they won the day. The intending marauders 
became aware of these uniformed detachments at certain 
points ; they didn't like the " look " of their rifles or their 
British leaders, so they adopted the line of least resistance 
and left the road alone. 

The levies were to be raised in three groups, two at 
Hamadan and one at Kasvin. Each group consisted of 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 129 

two companies of dismounted men each two hundred 
strong and one of mounted men of the same strength, 
making a total of 600 men. The companies were com- 
manded by Persian officers, and the British personnel 
acted only as instructors in cantonments and leaders in 
the field. The first group at Hamadan was raised by 
Major Engledue from the local people without reference 
to any particular tribal connections. The second group 
was raised by Major Macarthy and consisted of a solid 
block of men taken entirely from the tenantry of a big 
landowner, and regarded as his special corps, to the upkeep 
and maintenance of which he was willing to subscribe. 
These two groups very soon furnished us with sufi&cient 
men for our immediate purposes, and were most useful 
to us. The Kasvin group was naturally more diiBficult 
to start as we had not yet made ourselves properly known 
in that part of the country, and men were shy about 
coming in to enlist under total strangers. But they came 
along in twos and threes and we soon had enough men 
there to help us in carrying out minor police duties. 

Although not much of an addition to our fighting 
strength, these levies were very useful, and more than 
justified their existence. Among other advantages was 
the fact that our dealings with them brought us very 
intimately into touch with a large circle of the people, 
and this was a very valuable political gain. 

Mistakes were bound to occur in our early efforts, 
and among these were the fact that we accidentally 
enlisted a complete gang of robbers, who came to us not 
for our benefit or for that of their fellow-countrymen, but 
for their own. Their idea was to obtain pay, uniform 
and authority from us, and then use the latter to extort 
money from the Persians ; in fact the only contemplated 
change in their careers was that, from being unlicensed 
robbers, they were now to become licensed. Their 
method of procedure would be merely an enlightened 

10 



130 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

re-reading of orders. The orders you give are : " All 
people on this road are to be stopped " — they read this, 
** People can only go down this road if they pay for the 
privilege " ; you order, " All armed men are to be dis- 
armed " — they issue the improved version, " Nobody is 
allowed to carry arms without paying a handsome fee 
to us." In addition to this, another favourite method 
is to undertake the duties of escort to some well-to-do 
person, and then at a convenient opportunity to change 
their role from guardian to highwayman, and relieve 
their charge of his superfluous wealth. 

I do not say that any of our men were guilty of these 
things ; the Persians made such accusations against 
them, but they would have accused them just as 
vehemently whether they had done the deeds or not. 
In any case, if they had such intentions, their career was 
cut very short, as on their proclivities being discovered 
they were soon weeded out as undesirables. 

The usual opposition to all our enterprises was set 
on foot by the local Democratic Committee. The town 
was informed by printed manifestoes that to serve the 
English was to incur everlasting disgrace, and that the 
assassin's knife would punish any who yielded to such 
base temptation. But recruiting went on very well in 
spite of all this, and the murderous threats were never 
put into execution. 

The irregulars did not develop till later on, but I may 
mention them briefly here. The Turks had two divi- 
sions round Lake Urumiah and were holding the 
country as far south of the lake as Sakiz, 100 miles 
in our direction. Major Starnes was dispatched with 
a small party to Bijar, 100 miles north-west of 
Hamadan, to guard our flank against any sudden move 
of the Turks from Sakiz. The 150 miles of country 
between Bijar and Sakiz was peopled by tribes with a 
genuine reputation for valour and warlike instincts. 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 131 

These tribes both the Turks and ourselves endeavoured 
to use against each other by offering rewards for 
services rendered as levies or irregulars. The equal 
endeavour resulted more or less in stalemate, which 
was not an altogether unsatisfactory position from our 
point of view. Had we made no effort in this direction 
the Turks would soon have been in Bijar (as they 
already were in Sinneh, 100 miles south-west of that 
place), and our position on the Hamadan road would 
have been very seriously threatened. As it was, we 
were never worried here at all, owing to the good work 
effected by Major Starnes' party among the Bijar 
people. 

Exactly similar work was done by Major Wagstaff's 
party on the Kasvin-Tabriz road, among the Shah- 
savens. His party was pushed out in the same way towards 
the Turks, and acted as a very efficient shield for our 
movements on the Hamadan-Kasvin road, until at last 
the Turks advanced in force in September and drove 
us back as far as Zinjan. 

Among the most influential men in this neighbour- 
hood was the Amir Afshar, a very remarkable old 
gentleman, whom I met by appointment in Hamadan 
when he was staying there as the guest of the Amir 
Afgham. He is over eighty years of age and a con- 
firmed drug-taker, but for a few hours in the morning 
his mind is as clear as crystal ; my visit to him was 
therefore paid at the unearthly hour of 5.30 a.m. His 
estates are in the neighbourhood of Zinjan, and he could 
easily put up over 1,000 men from among his tenants ; 
but he wanted rather a large price for his services. 
Firstly he complained that the Russians had punished 
his tribe, on a groundless accusation of pro-Turk pro- 
clivities, by taking away from them a thousand rifles. 
I must get these back from General Baratov. Secondly, 
whether I got these rifles back for him or not, he wanted 



132 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

a thousand rifles from me to enable him to take on the 
serious programme I wished him to adopt. Thirdly 
(and very wisely), he would do nothing actively against 
the troops unless he saw our troops at hand to save 
him from Turkish vengeance, which would be bound 
to fall on him if unsupported by us and defeated by the 
Turks. This was a form of support it was difficult for 
me to guarantee. 

In the end I was led to expect very little active 
support from him in the face of my failure to agree to 
his third clause. I sent him 250 rifles (captured Turkish 
rifles sent up to me for this purpose from Baghdad) 
to see if that would induce the right frame of mind. 
He acknowledged them with a very flowery letter of 
thanks and asked for more. To this I replied that he 
should have as many more as soon as he balanced the 
account by letting us have 250 armed men of his tribe 
for active operations. I explained further that when 
he had received 500 rifles from me I should expect to 
see 500 of his men in the field. But the 250 rifles failed 
to bring about the result I aimed at, and he got no more 
from us. The truth of the matter is that these tribes 
were willing enough to back the winning horse, but 
could not make up their minds as to which was likely 
to be the winner. 

The news from France at this time was of the very 
worst description from our point of view ; the victori- 
ous German thrust towards Amiens which had begun 
in March was well advertised by German wireless as 
far as Hamadan, where it was picked up by the Russian 
wireless and disseminated among the people. The 
fact that the German advance was now checked and 
that there were signs of a turn of the tide was naturally 
omitted in bulletins from German sources, and news 
from our sources was regarded with considerable sus- 
picion. On the whole it looked to the Persians as if Ger- 



I 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 133 

many was going to win the war, and if she did it meant 
a triumphant Turkey who would ruthlessly exterminate 
any tribes who had opposed her in the days of her trouble. 
Moreover, if we won and the Turks lost, we would 
eventually go away and the Turks would remain very 
close at hand, so that even in that case they could make 
it very uncomfortable for any who had shown hostility 
to them. 

It was partly in connection with the subject of our 
attitude towards these tribes as embodied in our general 
policy in Persia that I decided to visit His Britannic 
Majesty's Minister at Teheran at this time. 

We left Hamadan on May 12th, arriving at Kasvin 
on the next day and staying the night there. At Kasvin 
we were glad to find that Major Hay had been able to 
get excellent quarters for his party in a large house 
belonging to one of the best-known representatives of the 
Persian aristocracy, the Sipah-Salar. This house stood 
in its own extensive grounds on the west-ern outskirts 
of the town, and was so situated that the occupants 
were able to have first turn at the water supply which 
enters the town from this side. The building had up 
to this time been used by the Russians as a hospital, 
and was admirably adapted to our purposes. 

Famine relief on a small scale had been started in 
the town, the people were becoming accustomed to the 
sight of English faces and English uniforms, and the 
scowls which had formerly greeted us were already 
exchanged for smiles or looks of indifference. 

On May 14th we left for Teheran, distant about 
ninety miles from Kasvin, and arrived in the British 
Legation in the afternoon. The road from Kasvin to 
Teheran runs due east along the foot of the southern 
slopes of the Elburz Mountains. The surface is good, 
but the Russian road company had attempted very little 
in the way of engineering, choosing a straight line up 



134 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

and down each rise and fall of the natural lie of the 
land, and avoiding any expense in the way of cutting or 
embankment. 

The country is treeless and for the most part uncul- 
tivated, while the southern slopes of the Elburz 
Mountains that flank the road on the left-hand side 
are as barren as the usual hills in Persia, and give no 
indication of the wonderful forest land that lies on 
their northern slopes. 

At our entry into Teheran we were challenged and 
halted by a guard of Persian gendarmes, and were only 
permitted to proceed after solemnly entering in a book 
our names and our father's names, and giving an assur- 
ance that we were not conveying arms into the town. 

Teheran has a very Europeanized appearance, and 
is quite unlike any of the other towns with which we 
had so far made acquaintance. The roads were broad 
and in many places lined with handsome trees, while 
frequent signboards in French and Russian notified 
the presence of numerous hotels and emporiums of 
every kind. But the general aspect of the town is not 
very pleasing, and its lack of beauty renders that of the 
Legation grounds more intense by contrast. 

It is hard to describe the beauties of this wonderful 
oasis. To those who have visited Kashmir it recalls 
the memory of the old Moghul gardens on the Dal Lake, 
and gives an idea of what those gardens must have 
looked like in the days of their youth. But its beauty 
is enhanced by the abruptness of the transition from 
unbeautiful things, as the traveller turns from a dusty 
street, after ninety miles of treeless road, into a fairy- 
like grove of magnificent plane-trees. And when night 
falls and the nightingales start to sing, it is hard to 
realize that one is really living in these horrible days 
of war and bloodshed. 

The Austrian and German prisoners moving freely 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 185 

in the streets, and the sight of the German and Turkish 
flags flying over their respective Legations, added to the 
air of unreality. 

We stayed three days at Teheran, during which 
time I had the honour of making the acquaintance of 
the American, French and Russian Ministers, and of 
many of the important Persians, including the Sipah- 
Salar and the two sons of the Firman-Firma, who are 
likely to play a prominent part in the future of Persia. 

I spent the early mornings riding with Major Bart- 
telot ; the later hours of the mornings and the whole 
of the afternoons were devoted to interviews from 
which I derived much value. 

On May 17th we left Teheran, stayed the night in 
Kasvin and reached Hamadan on the evening of the 
18th, finding the journey a very different affair from 
what it had been in the winter. 

Although the country is treeless, and the unirrigated 
tracts are very barren-looking, the whole ground is 
carpeted in this one month with very beautiful flowers. 
On the higher passes we enjoyed the sight of large red 
tulips and several kinds of iris, while lower down the 
hillsides were bright with the varied hues of many 
unknown flowers. These thrive for a very short time on 
the water provided by the melting snow, and as there 
is no rainfall in summer they are soon burnt up, and 
the landscape resumes its aspect of dreary monotony. 

The most beautiful flowers were those on the top 
of the Sultan-Bulaq Pass, exactly in the spot where we 
found seven corpses of unfortunate victims of the famine. 
Such corpses strewed the road between Kasvin and 
Hamadan at intervals throughout its length. 

The general discomfort of a long drive in small cars 
over rather rough roads was very much increased by 
the necessity of taking back with us to Kasvin several 
prisoners who had recently been rounded up by our 



136 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

agents and by Bicherakov's Cossacks. It was becoming 
very diJ0ficult for enemy agents to get through the nets 
that were spread for them in every direction. With 
our small forces we could not scour the entire country, 
and with regard to movements off roads we could only 
rely on information from our agents, but we were able 
to render movement on the main roads quite impossible. 
The road company had established toUgates about every 
thirty miles along the road, and these we held with small 
parties of ofi&cers and levies, and were thus able to keep 
a minute check on all traffic. 

The present batch of prisoners included one German 
civilian and one Hungarian officer with his wife and 
child. This officer had been taken prisoner by the 
Russians early in the war, had been released in Turkestan 
when the revolution broke out and, seeing no chance 
of getting home to Hungary, had married a Caucasian 
lady, and was now the father of a promising infant. 
Having heard of the prospect of well-paid service under 
Kuchik Khan, he was on his way with his family to 
join that leader when he was arrested. The lady and 
child presented such difficulties that one almost wished 
he had been successful in slipping through our fingers. 
I was fated to have them for companions throughout 
the interminable day, as I was the only possessor of a 
touring car, and it was hardly fair to submit a lady, even 
though a prisoner, to the discomfort of a Ford van. 

I unfortunately gave away the fact that I spoke 
Russian, and I shall never regret anything so much in all 
my life. We were all very bright and cheerful in the early 
hours of the day, Madame explaining that she had never 
been in a motor-car before and was enjoying the trip very 
much. But after some hours the charm of novelty wore 
off, and its place was taken by quite another sensation. 
The lady explained that the unaccustomed motion was 
making her feel sick, and thereafter frequent halts had 



A PAUSE AT HAMADAN 137 

to be made to enable her to deal with this dilemma. I 
was extremely sorry for the poor woman, who was very 
plucky about it, and bobbed up quite *' merry and bright " 
after each episode, announcing her firm intention of 
becoming accustomed to the motion, but her pluck was 
not rewarded with any improvement in this respect. 
I was as delighted as she was when we eventually reached 
Hamadan and I was able to hand her over to the kind 
ministrations of Mrs. Funk, a lady of the American mission. 

My short visit to Teheran, and a useful interview I 
had had with Bicherakov at Kasvin, had decided me to 
give up Hamadan entirely as Head Quarters and to move 
forward to Kasvin. Many schemes were now coming to 
a head. Matters must soon be settled one way or another 
with the Jangalis, and it would be easier to deal with these 
affairs if I were on the spot at Kasvin than to do so by 
messengers and telegrams from Hamadan. Moreover, I 
had also, on my way through Kasvin, got in touch with 
certain Russian agents who were willing to be of service 
in connection with any enterprise in the Baku direction. 
These latter belonged to the Social-Revolutionary party, 
and it was due to their influence that the Bolshevik power 
in Baku was eventually overthrown. 

We had also to think of our prisoners in the hands of 
the Jangalis — Captain Noel, Mr. Oakshot (of the Bank), 
and Mr. Maclaren (the Consul) — and see if any plan for 
their rescue or release could be devised. So far we had 
been able to do nothing for them, and it was difficult 
to see how we could effect their release except by 
Kuchik Khan. 

Having decided therefore to shift Head Quarters to 
Kasvin, I sent General Byron up there with three Staff 
Officers, to enable him to make himself acquainted with 
the neighbourhood before taking over the command of 
Hamadan and the lines of communication which I would 
hand over to him on departure. General Byron was also 



h 



138 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

able to go into the question of supplies, billets etc., and 
to select a suitable residence for Head Quarters. 

On May 25th Colonel Key worth arrived, bringing with 
him the fourth party composed of 50 officers and 150 
N.C.O.'s, a splendid addition to our numbers, enabling 
us to put full pressure on to many schemes that had been 
languishing for want of personnel. This party, as well 
as the previous one, had walked all the way and seemed 
very fit after their long march. They brought with them 
the specially selected Russian officers who had been sent 
out from home. These officers were mostly from regiments 
of the Russian Guard, and many of them in the Guards 
cavalry. The experience of footing it through Persia was 
one they had never expected to enjoy, but they were a 
cheerful community and there was no disposition to 
grumble. 



CHAPTER IX 
A STEP IN ADVANCE 

WE left Hamadan for Kasvin on June 1, 1918, 
almost exactly four months after our departure 
from Baghdad. 

During those four months work of considerable value 
had been accomplished and we were entitled to regard 
our achievements in Persia with some satisfaction. But 
this feeling of satisfaction in no way removed the sting 
of our original failure, and all felt elated with the certainty 
that the advance of Head Quarters to Kasvin was but 
the prelude to an entry into the promised land of the 
Caucasus. When the moment for that entry would come 
none could tell. If troops had been available the moment 
would have been to-day, but in the absence of troops it 
was necessary to endure the delay of securing a footing 
in Baku and to endeavour to neutralize it by means of 
intrigue. Every day's delay in our movement brought 
the Turks nearer to the oil city, and the probabilities were 
that our second failure would be brought about by their 
capture of the town before we could get our enterprise 
further under way. 

Meantime it can easily be understood that it was very 
difficult to run the Persian venture at full pressure and 
at the same time to manipulate affairs in such a way that 
when the word came to cross the Caspian, we should be 
able to take with us the necessary complement of selected 

139 



140 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

officers and N.C.O.'s. This in the end proved impossible. 
To have worked on such lines would have contributed 
greatly towards our success in the Caucasus, but would 
have endangered the success of our many schemes in 
Persia. The proper fulfilment of these schemes demanded 
our best and had to have them. When, therefore, the 
time eventually came to risk the Baku venture the greater 
proportion of officers and men were already employed in 
Persia in tasks from which they could not be relieved 
without risking entire dislocation. A considerable staff 
was necessary for the administration of Persian towns, 
a large number of officers were required for the levies 
and irregulars ; intelligence and supplies absorbed a 
great many, and the balance that would be available 
for service in Baku would be but small. 

It is necessary to explain how an undertaking, 
originally based on the idea of getting to Tiflis and 
reorganizing local troops there against the Turks, had 
now been diverted into the fresh channel of the Baku 
adventure. 

When the Tiflis plan proved to be quite out of our 
reach and it was certain that the enemy would soon be 
in full possession of the South Caucasus, the question 
arose as to what must now be undertaken to hinder 
him in the enjoyment of his conquest. It was obviously 
impossible to allow him a free hand. 

The capture of Baku by the enemy would give him 
ample stocks of oil for the running of the Caucasian railway 
lines and the Black Sea shipping (the oil is pumped in 
pipes from Baku to Batoum), and it would mean the 
control by him of the Caspian Sea, with all the valuable 
supplies obtainable from the various ports on its shores, 
and an open door to Asia and Afghanistan. Any enemy 
scheme of penetration into Asia through Turkestan would 
be greatly facilitated by the large numbers of released 
Austrian prisoners set at liberty in that country by the 



A STEP IN ADVANCE 141 

revolutionaries, and now wandering about ready to under- 
take any task that would procure them their daily bread. 
It was probable that there were as many as 30,000 of these 
released Austrians, and it was from their ranks that the 
Bolshevik army lately operating in the neighbourhood of 
Merv and Askabad had been chiefly recruited. 

On the other hand the possession of Baku by us would 
mean the converse of these propositions : denial of the 
stocks of oil to the enemy, and the closing of the door to 
Central Asia. The retention of the oil in our hands would 
eventually stop all movement of the South Caucasian 
railways which are normally dependent on this source 
of fuel. 

To sum up then, our new plan was to get control of 
the Caspian and, as this could only be achieved by securing 
Baku, to save this town from the clutches of the enemy. 
Its importance was enormous and any risk was justified 
in our endeavour to secure it. 

It can easily be understood how hard it was to con- 
centrate on the Baku problem without endangering the 
Persian situation. We had with great pains built up a 
fairly solid position in North Persia, and this position was 
founded on the abilities of the various officers selected 
for each appointment. To remove them from their 
Persian responsibilities at a moment's notice and throw 
them into the Baku scheme would be equivalent to 
pulling out the foundation stones of the building. 

With Head Quarters at Kasvin, we should be in a 
position to make the best solution possible of the difficult 
problem before us, and to seize the first fleeting opportunity 
of a move to the Caspian. We arrived on June 1st 
and installed ourselves in a comfortable house belonging 
to the American missionaries, in the neighbourhood of 
the Sipah-Salar's house, and at once set to work, as at 
Hamadan, to make the acquaintance of the local notables, 
while General Byron returned to Hamadan to take over 



142 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

command there. An aerodrome had to be built to receive 
the four aeroplanes allotted to the force, and landing 
grounds were made here, at Zinjan and at Mianeh : the 
one at Hamadan had been constructed a month ago. 

We found Kasvin a very different town from 
Hamadan. In population it is about the same, with 
probably 50,000 inhabitants. The attitude of the people 
and the politicians was the same as in Hamadan, the 
former anxious to be friendly, the latter stirring up 
hatred and ill-feeling against us. 

The town lies at an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea- 
level, about 10 miles from the southern slopes of the Elburz 
Mountains : it is not in any way remarkable for natural 
beauty or striking architecture, but the houses in general 
have a rather more ambitious appearance than those of 
Hamadan. In fact the outstanding difference between 
the two towns is that Hamadan is distinctly a provincial 
town, while Kasvin tries hard to look like a city. It 
endeavours to achieve this result by means of numerous 
inns with the grand names of all the best-known hotels 
in Europe, and by European shops with actual plate -glass 
windows, looking very ugly and out of place in an Oriental 
town. These shops display a variety of goods, from ladies* 
white satin high-heeled shoes to gents' summer suitings 
at sale prices, reminding us of much that is least attractive 
in our own country. 

Where Russians are, there will be many hair cutters, 
and Kasvin is full of excellent barbers* shops chiefly kept 
by Armenians and Greeks. As long as the Russians remain 
these shops may make a living, but the English soldier 
pays less attention to his coiffure, and when the Russians 
depart a good many barbers will have to put up their 
shutters and choose some other means of livelihood. 

The commercial population of the town is very cos- 
mopolitan. There is a large Russian colony, and the 
retiring troops have left behind them a horde of women 



A STEP IN ADVANCE 143 

and children, who are apparently anxious to follow their 
lords and masters but don't quite know how to do so. 
Bicherakov's troops are also here, and a goodly number 
of Russian ne'er-do-weels, many of whom are in touch 
with the Enzeli Bolsheviks and looking for an oppor- 
tunity of thwarting our plans. 

With such a population it is much harder to deal with 
the question of enemy agents than it was in Hamadan. 
There any one with a white or semi-white face could be 
arrested on sight, and was certain to be an individual 
who ought not to be at large. Here if you wished to 
carry out such procedure, you would have to arrest half 
the town. 

Bicherakov kept order in a rough-and-ready sort of 
way, and his trusty lieutenant Sovlaiev was quite prepared 
to take the risk of arresting many harmless people in 
the hopes that there might be a guilty one somewhere 
in the bunch. As I had to take over and deal with these 
prisoners, I soon found the large numbers of indiscriminate 
arrests rather embarrassing. I complained on one occasion 
that I had rather a lot of these suspects on my hands, and 
as there appeared to be nothing at all against the majority 
of them 1 proposed to release them. To this Sovlaiev 
retorted, *' There very likely is nothing against most of 
them, but one can never tell. I don't like the looks of 
any of them. I suggest you need not punish or confine 
any of them ; just run them all down to Baghdad in a 
motor-lorry and let them walk home. That will help to 
keep their heads cool." 

Sovlaiev was a magnificent type of Ossietin from the 
same district in the North Caucasus as Bicherakov. He 
stood about 5 feet 9 inches in height and was splendidly 
proportioned, with a muscular development that boded 
ill for any who fell into his clutches, and as he carried 
out most of his arrests in person his prisoners could 
generally testify to the strength of his grip. His methods 



144 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

were probably those best suited to a very difficult situation, 
where it was impossible to get very exact evidence against 
any particular person. On one occasion he flew into the 
Hotel de France to arrest the proprietor, but the latter 
saw him coming and fled by a back door. Baulked of 
his prey Sovlaiev gave a sound hammering to all of the 
establishment who were within reach and, determined not 
to come back empty-handed, marched off in triumph with 
the innocent chef de cuisine ! 

We found prices in Kasvin about the same as in 
Hamadan, but supplies were not difficult to obtain. Food 
was quite good but never up to the standard of a private 
soldier's ration, and-our rate of messing, for the simplest 
diet was 30 krans, or just under £1 a day. Officers receive 
an allowance of £1 a day for food and lodging ; but the 
cost of living was never within that sum, and later was 
much above it. 

Wheat remained at abnormal famine prices, though 
the new crop would soon be harvested, and there were 
still large stocks of the old crop unsold. There is no doubt 
that the famine was to some extent artificial. Although 
there had been much loss owing to a bad season in 1917 
and the Russian troops had made large demands, still as 
this part of Persia is so fertile that in normal seasons most 
of the valleys are capable of producing seven times the 
requirements of the people, it seems certain that any 
possibility of famine in this country would be removed 
if one were able to introduce a system of wheat control. 

In Kasvin we were much more in touch with the 
Russians, and I was able to have frequent conferences 
with Bicherakov as to plans for the immediate future, 
which involved the settlement of the Jangali affair, and 
for the more distant future, which concerned the possibility 
of our getting a footing in the Caucasus. Discussions on 
the latter point were rendered difficult owing to the fact 
that I had no power or authority to guarantee anything, 



A STEP IN ADVANCE 145 

and Bicherakov often petulantly exclaimed, *' How can I 
fix up any arrangement with you, when you have no 
troops, and cannot even assure me that you are going to 
get any." Moreover I had, since the failure of our original 
plans, received no authority to undertake anything in 
the Baku direction. But as the control of the Caspian 
was still our aim, I felt sure that the authorities would 
eventually be convinced that control of that sea would 
rest with whoever held Baku, and that any endeavour 
to control the Caspian must therefore involve the holding 
of that town. The Russian officers who had come out 
with the last party from home proved invaluable as 
interpreters, and filled many important posts. One was 
attached to the squadron of the 14th Hussars, several 
were employed on dull but useful duties at the tollgates, 
some assisted in supplies, and Captain Bray, a Russian 
officer of English descent, was appointed A.D.C. and 
proved very helpful in my frequent interviews with 
messengers from Baku. 

There were many Russian lady nurses also, who had 
been left behind by the retiring troops, and it was necessary 
to do something for them. Many of them had passed 
high degrees in medical science, and the greater number 
were sent down to Baghdad for duty in military hospitals. 

Our visiting experiences among the Persians here were 
more amusing than those at Hamad an, but we never 
got on quite such friendly terms. Sovlaiev's activities 
brought many people to me in despair. The first to 
claim my protection was the head of the telephone 
service, who came flying round the day after our 
arrival in a state of breathless excitement and poured 
his tale of woe into my ears. " I come to implore 
you to protect an innocent man from the Russians. 
They have declared their intention of arresting me, and 
that desperate man Sovlaiev is at this very moment 
scouring the town for me. I cannot think of what I 

11 



146 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

am accused, but whatever it is I am perfectly innocent, 
as you must be aware. Do I look like a guilty 
person ? " 

I must own that he did look extremely guilty, but I 
could only reply, " I am quite new to this town and know 
nothing of any of the inhabitants. The Russians have 
been here for years and must know all about everybody. 
I cannot therefore undertake to pit my experience against 
theirs, and I cannot possibly interfere with any arrests 
they decide to make. As you are quite certain of your 
innocence I should not resist the arrest. You had better 
allow Sovlaiev to take what steps he thinks right and 
rely upon the proofs of your innocence to put matters 
square." 

The Rais-i-telefon smiled a sad smile at this advice 
and intimated that he was not inclined to take the 
risk of relying on Sovlaiev's discrimination. As I could 
offer him neither assistance nor palatable advice, he 
begged permission to withdraw and was soon galloping 
off in his little two -horse carriage. 

Five minutes later up turned Sovlaiev hot on the 
trail of his enemy, and very much annoyed with me for 
not having arrested the culprit. I explained that I had 
no information as to any charge against him, and I could 
not be expected to fall in with his idea of arresting people 
just because I didn't like their looks. On this he flew 
off to continue the chase, the intended victim continuing 
to elude him up to nightfall. At daybreak on the following 
morning he was round again at my quarters with the news 
that the Rais-i-telefon had taken refuge with the Governor, 
and he intended to attack the Governor's palace in order 
to effect his arrest. I dissuaded him from this quite 
unnecessary act of violence, and we agreed that I should 
take over the task of further pursuit ; I did not, however, 
immediately press the matter, as it did not appear to 
belong to the category of events that were going to win 



A STEP IN ADVANCE 147 

the war. I merely asked Captain (now Major) Saunders 
to find out what it was all about, and awaited his 
report. 

My first official visit was necessarily to the Governor, 
Midhat-es-Sultaneh, a charming personality of Falstaffian 
build and humour — a genial philosopher who laughed 
his way through life and met each change of fortune with 
an equanimity worthy of the Vicar of Bray. His motto 
was, *' Come what may I will retain my position as Governor 
of this town," and he told me with pride that he was the 
only Governor in Persia who had managed to cling to 
office for more than three years. He had to swing the 
pendulum this way to please the Persian Government, 
and that way to please the Russians, and now we^ had 
come he was quite ready to swing it any way we liked. 
As long as we were pleased, he was going to be pleased. 
In politics he posed as a democrat, but he told me this 
with a very sly chuckle. He was certainly not the type 
of man to demand " government b}^ the people for the 
people," but, as he said, " in these days of politics, for 
which we have to thank you European gentlemen, one 
has to be something or another, and the democratic 
label is the popular one at present." The result of our 
investigations as to his past leanings and tendencies showed 
him to be quite innocent of any plots or intrigues. He 
was pro-nothing and anti-nothing and had only one aim 
in life, which was to steer his boat clear of all the rocks 
and whirlpools by which he was surrounded. 

After calling on the Governor, we visited the Kar- 
guzar, Ihtidar-ul-Mulk, a pleasant young man, who 
welcomed us with every courteous attention. In conver- 
sation he protested a little too much, and went so much 
out of his way to denounce the Germans and Turks and 
to sneer at Kuchik that we felt convinced he would prove 
to be one of our worst enemies. It was not long, however, 
before we knew all about his hostile activities, and he 



148 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

tacitly admitted his guilt by fleeing to Teheran before 
we had decided to take action against him. 

Among the local gentry we made the acquaintance of 
Prince Bisharat-es-Sultaneh, a relation of the Sipah- 
Salar, a charming specimen of the refined Persian 
gentleman. 

Several batches of officers had now arrived from 
Hamadan, and we were able to begin getting the town 
into order. Lieut. -Colonel J. Hoskyn had arrived to carry 
out the duties of General Staff Officer, First Grade (for 
operations). Lieut. -Colonel Warden, of the Canadian 
Infantry, was appointed Commandant of the town, and 
Captain Cockerell took over the arduous duties of Assist- 
ant Provost-Marshal. The latter officer was quite the 
most gifted individual I have ever met in the art of 
producing law and order from chaos. Two days after his 
arrival I found him going round the town with the genial 
Governor, explaining the advantages of sanitation. The 
Governor was finding it hard to live up to his principle of 
agreeing with the last-comer, and the perpetual smile on 
his genial countenance had faded to a hardly perceptible 
flicker ; but he still had sufficient strength to murmur a 
cheerful assent and to promise great efforts in the near 
future. For the first time in his life he was going to find 
some one who would see that he lived up to his promises, 
and in a few days Kasvin was delighted with the sight 
of a Persian governor actually engaged in sanitating his 
town, an event not previously recorded in Persian history. 

In spite of our efforts at sanitation, Kasvin was not 
a healthy town, and our chief Medical Officer, Major 
Brunskill, soon had his small hospital overflowing. But 
except for rare isolated cases we escaped the two scourges 
common to this part of Persia, typhus and cholera. 

We must now return to follow the doings of the Rais- 
i-telefon. We left him hiding in the Governor's palace, 
with Sovlaiev watching the exits to pounce on him if 



A STEP IN ADVANCE 149 

he emerged. But he took very good care not to show his 
face outside, until at last he received the joyful news that 
his persecutor had marched down the road to Resht. 
If he had only known it, this was merely a case of "out 
of the frying-pan into the fire " ; it was only going to 
result in a change of methods, but the result would be 
the same. 

In a very short time I was shown papers thoroughly 
implicating the suspected man in every sort of plot and 
intrigue to " down the British," and the majority of 
these papers being in his own handwriting there was not 
much need to ask for corroboration of his guilt. After 
all, one uses the term " guilty " in a very comparative 
sense. The term is not really applicable to an inhabitant 
of a neutral country who displays a preference for one 
nation as compared with another. But in time of war 
one has to regard as " guilty " any one who does not 
side with oneself, and in this sense the documents were 
most incriminating. 

As soon as I saw these papers I determined to arrest the 
Rais-i-telefon ; but not wishing to disgrace the Governor 
by making a forcible entry into his palace, I sent a request 
to him that he would come round and see me at Head 
Quarters on an urgent matter. In a remarkably short 
time he arrived in his little carriage and pair and entered 
my room with his usual smile. When I stated the reason 
of my desiring his presence and gave him the letters to 
read, the smile, for the first and only time in my experi- 
ence, left his face, and he literally gasped for breath. 
I do not think it was the contents of the letters 
that took away his breath so much as the fact that 
we had obtained possession of them. At last his 
indignation (well assumed) found words. ** Alas, what 
treachery ! Is there a man in the world one can trust ? 
To think of a former friend of mine sunk to such 
depths of infamy ! " etc. 



I 



150 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

When he had concluded his long tirade I informed 
him that I should be under the painful obligation of 
invading his sacred precincts in order to effect the arrest. 
This brought back again the accustomed smile to his 
lips as he retorted with a chuckle, " He isn't with me any 
more. Since Sovlaiev left, he has gone back to his own 
house." He now begged, in the polite Persian way, 
permission to withdraw. But there was a delay in 
getting hold of Captain Cockerell to give him the orders 
for arrest, and until he came I could not release the old 
man, whose anxiety to get away was obviously merely 
to warn the friend he had so savagely denounced. So 
we had to keep the conversation going on rather forced 
subjects, and at every pause the old man bobbed up with 
his request to depart, and I had to say once more, *' Please 
wait half a minute, I see so little of your Excellency, 
and I want particularly to ask you if there is any prospect 
of a fall in the price of grain." At last Cockerell arrived 
and I was able to give him the necessary orders, and as 
he would be travelling in a motor-car, I thought he would 
easily get to the offender's house before the Governor 
could carry out his obvious intention of warning his " false " 
friend. I accordingly released the Governor, and it was 
amusing to note the un-Persian speed with which he 
rushed to his carriage, hopped in and instructed the coach- 
man to whip up the horses. Cockerell's car vanished 
down a road to the left, while the Governor's carriage 
disappeared in a cloud of dust round a corner to the right. 
And the Governor won the race. Owing to uncertainty 
as to the exact spot at the Rais-i-telefon's residence the 
car was slightly delayed, and by the time they reached 
the house, the offender, evidently warned on the telephone 
by his friend, had fled. 

The failure to arrest him was not very serious. If 
he had fled the town like the Kar-guzar, it would suit 
me equally well, and if he remained in the town we should 



i 



A STEP IN ADVANCE 151 

get him to-morrow or the next day. I never attached 
the same importance to these arrests as Sovlaiev did. 
In the first place, until our arrival, what could be more 
natural than that the Persians should favour our enemies 
who were on the spot and prosecuting a most vigorous 
propaganda ? The fact that the people of Kasvin had 
favoured the enemy cause was not of any great importance 
as long as they now agreed to cease their activities against 
us. To arrest all who were guilty of pro-Turk or pro- 
Kuchik tendencies would have been to arrest every man of 
standing in the town. It was not so important therefore 
to arrest one or two individuals, as to make all of the 
offenders change their minds. I accordingly issued a 
proclamation to the effect that we knew the exact measure 
of every man's guilt up to date, but that all sins of the 
past were remitted on the condition that no offence was 
committed after the date of our arrival. Any sign of 
activity against us from this date would be treated with 
the greatest severity. 

Another advantage in leaving a man at liberty when 
once we had marked him down as an enemy agent was 
that, with the requisite knowledge in our possession, we 
were able to obtain information of the greatest value from 
his correspondence. We kept a general look-out for the 
Rais-i-telefon without pressing the matter very much, 
but the whole situation was brought to a dramatic close 
by his unlooked-for surrender. 

Major Saunders was seated in his office on the day 
following the failure to carry out the arrest, when the 
door opened and in walked the Rais-i-telefon. Major 
Saunders was very much surprised at this sudden entry 
into his sanctuary of the very man we were supposed to 
be hunting the town for, and informed him abruptly that 
he must now consider himself a prisoner. The Rais-i- 
telefon meekly acquiesced, but begged to be allowed to 
say a few words, which were to this effect : "I thoroughly 



152 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

admit my former mistaken activities in support of your 
enemies. I realize that I was entirely wrong, and must 
plead that I was misled by others. I intend from this 
date to renounce my former tendencies and to devote 
the rest of my life to pro-British propaganda." 

In the end I decided not to arrest him, and he was set 
at liberty. It is possible to doubt the genuineness of his 
conversion, but it is quite certain that during the remainder 
of our time in Kasvin he entirely severed his enemy 
connection and was helpful to us in many ways. 

A few days later I met the Governor and told him of 
our surprise at the Rais-i-telefon surrendering himself. The 
old man chuckled and said : *' That was all my advice. 
I told him to go and walk into the office, and he would 
find that you would not touch him. I warned him that 
if you caught him in the town he would be sent to Baghdad 
for a certainty, but that you would consider it a point of 
honour not to be hard on him if he gave himself up. He 
was afraid to risk the plan, but I made him do it.*' 

There were of course many more incidents of this 
kind, but the above will suffice as typical of them all. 
Arrests of real importance were as a rule not amusing, 
and were carried out with a swiftness and secrecy that 
enhanced their value. 

In a conversation with an honest democrat {rara avis) 
in Kasvin we got as usual on to the favourite topic of 
every one at this time — Kuchik Khan, and I stated that 
I had quite a genuine admiration for him and a general 
agreement with his policy. What battle-cry could be 
more suitable for a Persian than " Persia for the Persians ! " 
but like all such cries it calls for definition, and it is not 
easy to define a Persian. In Persia there are large com- 
munities of Turks, Turcomans, Jews, and Armenians 
who have been there for centuries ; are these Persians ? 
Then as to the second cry of " Out with the Europeans," 
what desire could be more creditable to the Persians ? 



A STEP IN ADVANCE 153 

But of course it would entail *' Out with the Persians " 
in other lands where Persians are to be found. And 
finally it is not enough to give vent to these aspira- 
tions ; words can never take the place of deeds, and as 
the Europeans will not go voluntarily, Persia will have 
to apply force. And that is just the weak point of 
the whole scheme, there is no force behind it and there 
never will be. 

Persia has no army, and if she started to-day to create 
one, spending money (which she has not got) lavishly, 
she would in fifteen years' time be able to put a large 
number of well- trained soldiers on parade. But putting 
them on parade would not make brave men of them, 
and I very much doubt if they would be of any value 
as fighters. To be good fighters men must have strong 
beliefs and high ideals. The strongest of all incentives 
is love of country, and I see no signs of that in Persia. 

" What shall we do then ? " asked my friend. 
" What do you propose as a future programme for 
Persia ? " 

" Well," I replied, *' after my very short acquaintance 
with Persia, my opinion is of little value, but I would 
suggest the following. You talk of the glories of your 
past history ; teach it to your children. Talk of it less 
and live up to it more. You read the works of Sa'adi ; 
quote him less and be guided by him more. As long as 
every man says in his heart, ' Let Persia sink as long as 
I swim,' it is no use shouting * Persia for the Persians.' 
If you could start to-day to educate all Persian children 
from six years of age upwards on these lines, they would 
give you the right kind of soldiers in fifteen years' time, 
but it will take you fifteen years to get an educational 
system going ; so that you won't get your first soldiers 
till thirty years from now, and it will take another fifteen 
years to build them up into armies ; so if you start to-day 
on this simple programme, you will begin trying to turn 



154 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

out the Europeans in 1963. And even then you must 
remember that you will be only ' trying ' to turn them 
out, which is a very different thing from turning them 
out." 

" Your scheme is rather a hopeless one," said he. 

'* So is your Kuchik Khan's programme," I replied. 



CHAPTER X 
THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA 

OUR relations at this time with Bicherakov were 
becoming rather strained. He was naturally very- 
anxious, and his men even more so, to get on the move. 

Kuchik Khan was holding the Menjil bridge, 70 miles 
from Kasvin and exactly half-way to Enzeli, and although 
we could not believe that even under their German officers 
his troops would put up a very serious fight, yet it was 
clear that he did intend to oppose the Anglo-Russian 
advance. Every day's delay enabled him to increase the 
strength of his entrenched position covering the approaches 
to the bridge, a position naturally very strong even without 
artificial improvement. 

It was impossible for me to agree to a forward move 
on Bicherakov*s part until I could feel sure of some troops 
to put up behind him, and to hold Kasvin and the various 
posts on the road to Enzeli as the Russian column marched 
down to the Caspian ; and those troops I had not yet 
got. The only bond that really held him to us now was 
the financial one and that was slender, as he had already 
been offered better terms in the Caucasus if he would 
throw in his lot with the Bolsheviks. I also impressed 
upon him the great advantage it would be to him to have 
the support of aeroplanes and armoured cars, and these 
I could not give him if he broke away from us. I think 

155 



156 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

he was quite justified in displaying some feeling of 
exasperation. 

At the beginning of June I got the welcome news that 
troops were on their way in sufficient numbers to meet 
the demands of the moment. The remainder of the 14th 
Hussars were marching to Hamadan, eight armoured cars 
were at Kermanshah, and a mobile column of a thousand 
rifles of the 1/4 Hants Regiment and the 1/2 Gurkhas 
with two mountain guns were on their way up with all 
speed in 500 Ford motor- vans, and would probably arrive 
in Kasvin by June 12th. The movement of so many cars 
was rendered difficult by the shortage of petrol, but we 
just managed to accumulate sufficient to get them all 
through. But by the time this column reached Kasvin, 
it no longer merited the designation of " mobile " : the 
rough journey had been very hard on the cars, there was 
a shortage of spare parts, and less than fifty per cent, 
of the cars were fit for immediate use. 

In addition to these troops, No. 8 Battery Royal Field 
Artillery was on its way from Baghdad to Kasvin. 

We now had before us the final choice of coming to 
terms with Kuchik Khan or fighting him, though it would 
be more correct to say that we gave him the choice. 
There were several interchanges of our respective points 
of view by means of messengers, but it seemed impossible 
to hope for any peaceful solution. It was too much to 
expect of Kuchik Khan that having paraded his brave 
army, and vaunted its pro^v^ess in the most bellicose 
language, he would now tamely submit to see our troops 
march unopposed through his entrenchments. Nothing 
came of these negotiations therefore, and as a last resource 
I sent down Colonel Stokes with a flag of truce with full 
powers to speak for me. I was anxious as to what might 
befall Captain Noel and the other prisoners in the hands 
of the Jangalis if we declared war on the latter. The 
number of prisoners had considerably increased, but 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA 157 

Noel was now the only Englishman among them. Oakshot 
and Maclaren had escaped ; Noel was confined in chains 
in a dungeon. The other prisoners included one French 
ofl&cer and several Russians. 

I authorized Colonel Stokes to make any reasonable 
agreement with Kuchik, our unconditional points being 
the immediate release of all prisoners, the opening of the 
road to Enzeli and a guarantee of non-interference with 
movements of our troops on the road. In exchange 
I offered him a free hand as regarded any steps he might 
take with regard to the internal politics of Persia. 

Colonel Stokes remained for two days at Kuchik Khan's 
Head Quarters near Resht, but was only able to get evasive 
replies. Finding himself unable to induce the Jangalis 
to see the folly of their ways, and knowing that according 
to our programme hostilities would now be commencing 
he closed the negotiations and left for Enzeli on the same 
day that the fighting at Menjil began. 

On June 5th I agreed to Bicherakov setting his troops 
in motion, with a view to attacldng the Jangalis at Menjil 
and securing the bridge. Accordingly on that date the 
combined army set out from Kasvin composed of some 
thousand Cossacks, including artillery, cavalry and in- 
fantry, one squadron of the 14th Hussars under Captain 
Pope, and two of our armoured cars. It was also arranged 
that when hostilities commenced, two aeroplanes from the 
aerodrome at Kasvin should co-operate. To Bicherakov's 
force I attached Major Newcome, of the Canadian army, 
as financial adviser and Captain Derbyshire to supervise 
supplies. Colonel Clutterbuck remained throughout as 
liaison officer with the Russians, and Major Rowlandson, 
who also spoke Russian, accompanied the force for 
general duties. 

By June II, 1918, all was ready for the attack on 
the Jangali position. On the night of that date Bicherakov 
had collected his force at Bala Bala, 8 miles from 



158 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Menjil, and at dawn on the 12th he moved ofiE to the 
encounter. 

The two aeroplanes sent down from Kasvin to co- 
operate in the attack had orders to fly over the enemy's 
trenches, but not to use their machine-guns or to bomb 
the trenches until the enemy had made his intention of 
fighting clear by opening fire. I gave this order because 
I knew that the whole attitude of the Jangalis might 
well be only another example of the time-honoured 
Persian custom of fighting a battle by " looks," and 
if that were to be their line of action, it would only be 
fair to let them see our " looks " before proceeding to 
deeds. 

The matter was settled at once by the Jangali troops 
opening a furious but harmless fusillade on the aeroplanes 
as they flew over the trenches ; and thus commenced 
the Battle of Menjil Bridge. 

Meantime Bicherakov was steadily advancing at the 
head of his troops. This is not the proper place, according 
to correct ideas of modern warfare, for a General Officer 
commanding a force about to come into action ; in fact 
it is the very last place where he ought to be ; but in Persia 
the ordinary rules of tactics are reversed, and action that 
would be fatal in European warfare brings about most 
successful results. 

It is not easy to calculate what strength Kuchik Khan 
brought into action on this day. He boasted of possessing 
5,000 men, and he may have had half that number in 
the trenches on both sides of the bridge, and on the 
surrounding hills. He had no artillery, but was well sup- 
plied with machine-guns, which were placed in excellent 
positions to command the approaches to the bridge 
and the road on the other side of the river. 

The road has already been described in Chapter III, 
but it will make things clearer if X give a more detailed 
description of the few miles of ground over which the action 



I 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA 159 

took place. Approaching Menjil from the east the road 
runs at the foot of the mountains which lie on the 
right-hand side while a broad stony river-bed runs 
parallel to the road on the left. At a point about 2| 
miles before the bridge is reached a low spur runs out 
from the hills, causing the road to take a hairpin bend, 
on rounding which the plain and village of Menjil come 
into view. The bridge is not visible from here, in fact it 
can only be seen from a very short distance, as it lies in 
a very narrow gap between steep cliffs. At the point of 
the hairpin bend referred to above is a small tea-shop, 
whence an uninterrupted view of the whole ground is 
obtained. 

It is obvious from the above description that the 
enemy should have held this spur to cover the approaches 
to the field, and to deny so favourable a position to us. 
But it was held only by an observation picquet, which 
withdrew without firing on Bicherakov's approach. Stand- 
ing at the tea-shop and looking west one sees in the near 
foreground to the left, and left front, the village and the 
cultivated fields of Menjil, abruptly terminated at a distance 
of about 2 miles by the river-bed, which here swings 
round to the right to find its way north to the Caspian 
Sea through the gap over which the Menjil bridge has been 
constructed. The country in the distance in this same 
line of view is fairly open for some 6 miles, consisting of 
broad river-beds, patches of riverside cultivation and 
low hills ; beyond that the hills rise to considerable 
altitudes, and close the panorama. The road to the 
bridge is naturally obliged to follow the lines of the spur, 
curving beyond it sharply to the right for half a mile till 
the open ground is reached and then leading due west to 
the bridge. In the immediate foreground at a distance 
of 2 miles is a small isolated flat-topped hill about 
800 yards in length running at right angles to the line of 
the road and completely covering the bridge which lies 



160 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

about half a mile north-west of it. On the right the rocky 
cliffs of the Elburz Mountains rise within a few yards of 
the road, and render manoeuvre in that direction difficult 
except for well-trained mountain troops. 

The German Commander, von Passchen, failed to hold 
this spur, which was of course the real key of the position, 
and contented himself with entrenching his troops on 
the crest-line of the isolated hill, keeping a few small 
detachments on the lower slopes of the mountains to our 
right. Without artillery the hill might have been difficult 
to take, but such a position would be obviously untenable 
in the face of artillery fire, forming a target which an 
artilleryman would go far to seek and would seldom 
find. The crest-line of this small hill is at a slightly 
lower level than that of the tea-shop spur. 

The whole dispositions of the defence were so farcical 
that I am bound to believe that the Persians never meant 
to fight, relying upon " looks " to carry the day. But for 
that class of warfare they found Bicherakov quite the 
wrong sort of man. 

Presumably von Passchen must have known better, 
but I think the Persians believed that we would argue 
thus : " The Jangalis hold a hill that lies right across 
our path, protects the bridge and brings all the road over 
which we must advance under fire. To turn them out 
will cost many lives, even if successful. They will not 
go of their own accord. We must therefore halt here 
for several days to discuss the situation." 

Having omitted to hold the spur, the next most 
favourable ground for the enemy was the rocky slopes 
of the mountains on our right and the similar slopes on 
the far side of the bridge. Troops holding positions on 
these slopes would be difficult to dislodge, and their 
machine-gun fire properly directed would have made an 
attack on the bridge, without first dislodging them, a 
very costly affair and quite possibly a failure. 



I 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA 16i 

There were a few troops in these positions, but their 
opposition was very feeble. They made little use of 
their machine-guns, and very soon withdrew entirely 
from the field of battle. 

The ball was opened by the arrival of the aeroplanes, 
which swooped gracefully over the Jangali entrenchments 
without opening fire, returning to report the details of 
the enemy's position. They were heavily fired at, but 
were undamaged. 

At the same moment Bicherakov at the head of his 
army came round the corner of the spur by the tea-shop, 
where he encountered a small body of the enemy's troops, 
who had the appearance of intending to resist his 
advance. Having been badly wounded in the legs early 
in the war Bicherakov is obliged to walk with a stick, 
which he now carried as his only weapon, and with 
which he walked boldly up to the leader and asked him 
what he was doing there and why his men assumed so 
threatening an attitude. To this the picquet commander 
replied, " We are here to hold this post with the last 
drop of our blood ! " 

" Get out of it, at once ! " shouted Bicherakov, waving 
his crooked stick at them, and his fierce and threatening 
gestures so alarmed the Jangalis that they turned and 
fled as one man down the road, leaving the spur in the 
hands of the Cossacks. This completed the second phase 
of the battle. 

The third phase was commenced by the arrival of the 
German officer, von Passchen, with a Persian escort carry- 
ing a flag of truce and demanding a parley. The German 
was dressed in his national uniform and had quite the air 
of a commander-in-chief, evidently much impressing his 
Persian associates, but only making the Cossacks smile. 
Bicherakov advanced to meet him and inquired what his 
errand might be. Von Passchen replied that he came 
to treat on behalf of Kuchik Khan and proceeded to 
express himself in these terms : 

12 



162 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" The Jangalis are, as you see, very strongly entrenched, 
and the troops at your disposal will not suffice to move 
them from their position. Any attack you may therefore 
see fit to undertake is foredoomed to failure and will 
only result in needless loss of life. Mirza Kuchik Khan 
therefore empowers me to make the following offer to 
you. If you will dissociate yourself from the English, 
he will gladly allow you a free road to Enzeli. He has 
always regarded the Russians as friends and still continues 
to do so ; his quarrel is only with the English. Your men 
may pass down the road, without disarming, in batches 
of two hundred daily and the Jangalis will not molest 
your parties, but no English will be allowed to pass." 

Bicherakov was quite overcome with the impertinence 
of this proposition, but retained some control over his 
temper and his tongue. His reply was something to the 
following effect: 

" I do not recognize a German officer as a representative 
of Kuchik Khan, and I consider your appearing before 
me in German uniform as a piece of insolence. I want 
no terms from the Jangalis, and intend to open fire as 
soon as you get out of the way." 

The Cossack mountain artillerj^ had meanwhile been 
taking up an excellent position on the tea-shop spur, and 
as soon as von Passchen was clear of the field of fire 
the order was given to open on the isolated hill entrench- 
ments. The Cossack cavalry and the Hussars then moved 
out into the open towards the enemy's right, and the 
armoured cars came into action on the road against the 
enemy's left, while the Cossack infantry extended over 
the plain. 

In a very short time the Jangalis were seen to be 
evacuating their trenches and making in confusion for 
the bridge, the cavalry and armoured cars followed up 
in pursuit and gained the bridge without a check, cutting 
off a large number of stragglers who were taken prisoners. 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA. 163 

The bridge should have been untenable at this early stage 
of the proceedings, as the machine-guns which were sited 
on the other side of the river to cover it and all the 
approaches were still in position and had not even come 
under our fire. But the spirit of panic was in the air, 
and the machine-gunners fled almost without firing a 
shot. The mounted troops crossed the bridge, the infantry 
were reformed and the whole force marched 10 miles 
down the road to Rudbar without any further molestation. 
This seems incredible when you consider the nature of 
this terrible defile which I have already described. Had 
only one machine-gun remained in action on this road 
the whole advance would have been stopped. The 
Jangalis left a large number of killed and wounded on 
the ground, making no effort to remove them, and so 
ended the Battle of Menjil Bridge. The casualties on 
our side were trivial. 

Very determined opposition had not been expected, 
but no one had contemplated quite such an easy victory. 
The Jangalis are not altogether cowards, as they proved 
later, and Kuchik Khan explained their flight on this 
occasion as being due to the fact that he had no intention 
of fighting and was quite taken by surprise. He had 
expected the Russians to be overawed by the mere sight 
of his troops, and had felt certain that they would agree 
to his terms. He was painfully surprised at the rough 
treatment they had received at the hands of Bicherakov's 
force. 

The squadron of the 14th Hussars remained at Menjil 
under Captain Pope to hold the bridge, and were shortly 
afterwards strengthened by the addition of an infantry 
detachment from the mobile column. 

As our troops were not yet quite ready to take up the 
various posts that it would be necessary to hold to keep 
open the road to Enzeli, I had still to use all the tact and 
gifts of persuasion I possessed to restrain the impatience 



164 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

of Bicherakov. In the end he decided to push on to 
Enzeli with his main body, leaving small detachments at 
Rudbar, Rustamabad and Resht to be relieved by our 
troops as soon as possible and to rejoin him at Enzeli. We 
were able to carry out these reliefs within the next week 
and to separate ourselves finally from Bicherakov's force. 

Kuchik Khan now inspired his followers by announcing 
that the Russians having withdrawn, the British were 
left by themselves and, as they notably were poor fighters, 
they would soon fall an easy prey to his gallant troops, 
whom he ordered to attack and harass the British de- 
tachments on the road and to exterminate them. The 
result of these efforts was very similar to the result of a 
similar order given at the commencement of the war by 
the Kaiser with reference to a certain " contemptible 
little army." 

On June 18th a detachment of the l/4 Hants was 
attacked on the road. Captain Durnford was killed and 
six men wounded, but the enemy were driven off with 
considerable loss. At the same time the enemy displayed 
considerable activity in the neighbourhood of the other 
posts, especially near Imamzadeh Hashim, 10 miles from 
Resht, where the road leaves the hills and enters the 
dense forest and rice-fields of the flat country, and also 
at Resht itself. The town of Resht is large and straggling 
and entirely surrounded by alternate tracts of impene- 
trable forest and rice-fields. It is of considerable 
commercial importance, and has an even more ugly 
Europeanized appearance than Kasvin, with theatres, 
cinemas and many hotels. In the centre of the town 
are public gardens with a bandstand, and close to these 
gardens is the humble dwelling that is occupied by 
the British Consul. This is obviously a very bad site 
for such a residence. The Russians, more wisely, have 
built a splendid Consulate standing in its own grounds, 
just on the southern outskirt of the town and on the 




Resht, close to the Consulate 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA 165 

main road. Our troops were billeted alongside of the 
Russian Consulate outside the town, in a position that 
gave them considerable tactical advantages. 

The greatest number of troops we ever had at Resht 
was 450 rifles and two armoured cars, and with this 
number it was quite impossible to defend the town against 
the Jangalis, who were concentrating in the surrounding 
forest and were never more than a mile away from the 
outskirts of the town. Only one road led through the 
forest and that was the direct road to Kasma, 25 miles 
to the west, where Kuchik Khan had his Head Quarters. 
Our force was too small to risk an offensive against the 
Jangalis, of whom there were over 2,000 in the immediate 
neighbourhood, and even had we possessed sufficient 
strength it would have been putting men into a death- 
trap to move them along the Kasma road, while off the 
road movement in any formation was almost impossible. 
There was nothing therefore to prevent the Jangalis 
from taking the actual town, the perimeter of which would 
be about 7 miles, a distance far beyond the capacity 
of 450 rifles to defend. The town lies open on every 
side and the dense undergrowth comes right up to the 
walls of the outer houses. The troops were therefore 
kept concentrated on the outskirts, where they could 
hold their own against a large force of the enemy and 
whence they could deliver a counter-attack at any 
favourable moment. 

The situation of this detachment would have been 
precarious but for the aeroplanes, which produced a great 
effect by bombing and machine-gunning any concentration 
of the enemy ; but this task was also rendered difficult 
by the density of the forest, which gave the enemy cover 
from view. The casualties inflicted were therefore slight, 
but the moral effect was great. 

These operations on the Menjil-Resht road were 
conducted by Lieut. -Colonel Matthews, of the l/4 Hants, 



166 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

who commanded the mobile column of 800 rifles and two 
mountain artillery guns, which was a small force to cover 
the 50 miles of mountain road and forest from Menjil 
to Resht ! There was a good deal of hard fighting and 
the men acquitted themselves well, both Gurkhas and 
Hampshire men vieing with one another in showing the 
Jangalis of what stuff our troops were made. The 
armoured cars also helped much to impress the enemy, 
although the country was of the very worst description 
for their action, it being quite impossible for them to 
manoeuvre off the roads. The one thing an armoured 
car cannot negotiate is a rice-field. 

On June 26th I left for Enzeli with a view of fixing 
up plans with Bicherakov before he embarked for Baku, 
and also of ascertaining the present attitude of the Bol- 
shevik Committee. We stayed the night at Resht in 
the British Consulate, and I noticed the extreme danger 
of its position in the heart of the town. It was defended 
by a guard of one N.C.O. and twelve men, but a determined 
attack could not be beaten off by so small a detachment, 
and Colonel Matthews could not spare more men from 
his small force. Mr. Maclaren, who had been a long time 
a prisoner in the hands of the Jangalis, was now re-occupy- 
ing the Consulate, but it was intended to replace him by 
Mr. Moir, and arrangements were made to install the new 
Consul with due ceremony on our return journey. 

We reached Enzeli early on June 27th and took up our 
quarters as before in the Fishery Depot. The whole of 
the 27th and part of the 28th were spent in discussing 
plans with Bicherakov and interviewing Comrade 
Cheliapin. 

Bicherakov had decided to turn Bolshevik, as he saw 
no other way of getting a footing in the Caucasus. He 
had written and wired to the Bolshevik Committee an- 
nouncing his conversion and stating his belief that only 
by means of the Sovietski Vlast (the power of councils — 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA 167 

a new name for the Bolshevik authorities) could Russia 
find redemption. His conversion was loudly acclaimed 
in the Bolshevik newspapers of Baku, and he was offered 
the command of the Bolshevik troops or the so-called 
" Red Army," which he accepted. He was ready to 
embark at once, and I decided to send with him the staff 
of British officers who had accompanied him from Kasvin 
and " A " Squadron No. 2 Battery Armoured Cars (Locker- 
Lampson's unit). Disembarking at Baku would put his 
force rather too much in the hands of the Bolsheviks, 
who might turn round on him at any moment ; he there- 
fore decided to land at Alyat, a small port 50 miles south 
of Baku, where the railway turns at a right angle due 
west towards Tiflis. This would keep his force separate 
from the Bolsheviks and would at the same time bring 
it into the best position for co-operating with that portion 
of the Red Army which was actually in the field. 

The strength of the Red Field Army was calculated 
at about 10,000 men, and if they really had been soldiers 
and had had any fight in them the plan evolved by Bicher- 
akov should have been successful. But as usual, revolu- 
tionary troops are only troops on paper, and in the field, 
where each man is out only to avoid being killed, they 
count for nothing. 

The situation in the South- East Caucasus at this time 
was as follows : The Turkish Caucasus-Islam Army, about 
12,000 strong, composed of about one-half regular Turkish 
troops and one-half levies from the local Mahomedan 
races in the South Caucasus, was advancing from the 
Tiflis direction along the railway line with a view of cap- 
turing Baku. They were much hampered by the bad 
state of the railway and rolling-stock and shortage of 
fuel for the engines. The Germans in Tiflis also were 
doing their best to prevent the Turks getting to Baku 
at all, as they had a private arrangement with Lenin, 
and through him with the Baku Government, that the 



168 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

town should be peacefully handed over to them. To see 
the Turks in Baku would be almost as bad as to see the 
British there. 

This peculiar situation resulted in a most extraordinary 
^tate of affairs. In their anxiety to prevent the Germans 
obtaining possession of Baku, and also in their eagerness 
to take any chance of fighting the Bolsheviks, many 
Russian officers joined this Turkish force, and when we 
were later fighting against them in Baku we had Russian 
officers on our side, while the enemy had as many 
on his. 

On July 1st the Turkish Army had not yet crossed 
the Kura River, over which there is only one bridge, at 
Yeldakh, 150 miles from Alyat. This river drains the 
south-eastern half of the Caucasus Mountains from a 
point just north of Tiflis, and joins the Aras River 100 
miles from the point where the latter flows into the 
Caspian Sea, 50 miles south of Alyat. 

The possession of this bridge was therefore all im- 
portant. The advance guard of the Red Army was 
approaching the bridge from the east, and Bicherakov 
hoped to make a dash and capture it before the Turks, 
advancing from the west, could succeed in doing so. 
If he could seize and hold the bridge there would be no 
possibility of any further advance of the Turks on Baku 
for a very long time. Even should he fail to secure the 
bridge, his troops might still defeat the enemy in the 
fighting that wotdd ensue, or at any rate delay their 
advance long enough to enable the Baku commander to 
choose a defensive line in the mountainous country west 
of Baku that should be impregnable. 

With these objects in view Bicherakov commenced 
the embarkation of his force, on July 1st. 

My other task at Enzeli was to interview Cheliapin 
and ascertain his frame of mind. A short precis of our 
conversation will be given later on. 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA 169 

The first thing that struck me at Enzeli was the entire 
change of atmosphere since our unfortunate visit here in 
the winter. Then the Committee with some 2,000 men 
behind them were able to dictate ; now with only 
200 Red Guards, faced by 100 men of the 1/4 Hants, 
the air of dictator had vanished. The numerous com- 
mittee had dwindled to three, of whom we already 
knew Cheliapin ; the second member was Lazarev, a young 
shopkeeper about thirty years of age, and the third was 
Babookh, a youth of nineteen years of age, who had served 
as a trumpeter in a cavalry regiment. The ignorance of 
this latter member was astounding ; he was probably 
only just qualified as ** literate," but he had the courage 
of ignorance and the conceit of youth, and he undertook 
to speak severely to me on several subjects of which 
he knew nothing, such as our Colonial policy and our rule 
in India. He was a nice enthusiastic lad and really did 
intend to set all the wrongs in the world right, but the 
lines on which he hoped to work were not such as were 
likely to lead to success. 

Connected with the Committee was Lieutenant Alkhavi, 
an officer of Arab descent in Bicherakov's service. He 
was military governor of the town and representative of 
the Baku Soviets. As a member of Bicherakov's force 
he was naturally inclined to help us, but he liked his 
position as King of Kazian, and seemed a little afraid 
that in the end we might supplant him. 

Our detachment at Enzeli was very much objected to 
both by him and Cheliapin, but I pointed out that we were 
preparing a landing-ground for aeroplanes here and I 
must have a guard to look after the planes. They very 
kindly offered to undertake the guarding of the planes 
for us, but I had to insist that this was a duty that 
could only be performed by our own men. 

Another change in the atmosphere was that instead of 
summoning me to attend a meeting in the revolutionary 



170 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Head Quarters, the Committee very kindly oame to see 
me, at my request, in my quarters. 

The most important matter to settle with Cheliapin 
was the supply of petrol. This was entirely in the hands 
of our enemies the Bolsheviks, and it was not easy to get 
them to part with the one indispensable product, the 
lack of which would paralyse all our movements. Of 
course they should have absolutely refused to part with 
a single drop of petrol, in which case my force in Persia 
would have entirely lost its mobility, and we would have 
found ourselves in an extremely serious situation. 

But revolutionaries are short-sighted and not inclined 
to look very far ahead in their transactions. They wanted 
motor-cars, with which I alone could supply them. Money 
they had no need of as long as there was a printing-press 
handy, but motor-cars were not so easily called into 
existence as currency notes. So we arranged an exchange 
of motor-cars for petrol, at the rate of £300 worth of 
petrol for every £100 worth of cars. They wanted cars 
badly, but cars were far from being indispensable to them, 
whereas petrol was absolutely indispensable to me. Had 
they had the sense to see that they were gaining a very 
slight advantage and giving away a very valuable one, 
they might have refused the deal, and my force would 
have had to cease all movement in Persia. Baghdad 
objected very much to being asked to find the cars to 
enable me to carry out this deal, but in the end the demand 
was never a very large one. I received petrol from the 
Baku Soviets to a value of about £50,000, and when I had 
sent over ten Ford cars in part payment the Government 
was thrown out and I was unable to complete a transac- 
tion with a Government that had ceased to exist. These 
petrol transactions had the additional advantage of 
enabling me to strengthen our position in Enzeli by 
sending some officers down to reside there to superintend 
the unloading and dispatch of the consignments. By 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA. 171 

means of these officers and the aeroplane guard we had 
now secured a firm foothold in Enzeli, which was the 
first step towards gaining control of the Caspian. 

Altogether I regarded our visit to Enzeli as extremely 
satisfactory, we had arranged our future plans with 
Bicherakov, we had secured an unlimited petrol supply 
and we had established ourselves in the port. Compared 
with these solid advantages I made light of having had to 
listen to a lecture on the iniquities of British Imperialism 
from the lips of young Comrade Babookh, aged nineteen. 

On June 28th we left Enzeli and returned to Resht, 
staying again in the British Consulate. Some fighting 
had taken place in our absence, and the Gurkhas at 
Imamzadeh Hashim had had a very successful encounter 
with a party of Jangalis near their post, in which the 
latter were quite wiped out, and the fame of the Gurkha 
kukri spread consternation in the country-side. Two 
officers driving in a motor-car and not very well acquainted 
with their surroundings, mistook the Kasma road for the 
Enzeli one, and headed straight into the enemy's cordon. 
Within a mile from the town the car was fired on, one 
officer was killed, and the other managed by a good use 
of his legs to get back to the town. 

The ceremony of reinstatement of the British Consul 
was arranged for June 29th, and we went carefully into 
the details of the programme beforehand with the new 
Governor, Sirdar -i-Kul, so that there should be no hitch 
in the proceedings. And there were none, except that 
the Governor absented himself, sending an excuse at 
the last moment complaining of the usual Persian attack 
of sickness that arises when an unpleasant duty has to 
be performed. His share in the proceedings was to have 
been to make a public apology on behalf of the Persian 
Government for the insult offered to the flag, and to 
promise better behaviour in the future — quite enough to 
bring on a severe attack of giddiness and indigestion. 



172 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

At the appointed hour a British guard of honour was 
drawn up in the street opposite the entrance to the Con- 
sulate, and an armoured car stood by to keep order. 
The British Consul, Mr. Maclaren, attended with his 
confreres of Russia and France in full uniform, and the 
whole of the Persian town police were formed up in a 
body under the chief police officer. I opened the ceremony 
by making a brief speech explaining the nature of the 
occasion and trusting that this day would see the final 
settlement of all unpleasantness between the Persians and 
ourselves, due solely to misunderstanding, and inaugurate 
an era of peace, friendliness and mutual respect. This 
was followed by speeches in a similar strain by each of 
the Consuls present. The flag was hoisted and saluted by 
the guard of honour. The Persian Head of Police came 
forward, and made an humble apology for the behaviour 
of the police in the recent troubles and promised on their 
behalf better conduct for the future. The entire body of 
police then marched past and saluted the flag, thus 
bringing the ceremony to a very picturesque and satis- 
factory conclusion. Mr. Maclaren then handed over his 
duties to Mr. Moir, who had been appointed Consul 
in his place, and with whom I parted with great 
regret. 

On the next day we left for Kasvin, reaching our 
destination without being fired at on the road, which 
showed that our system of piquets was a very efficient one. 
At Kasvin I was able to take stock of events up to date 
and consider our further movements. With regard to 
the former we had good cause for satisfaction, and with 
regard to the latter good grounds for hope. 

It may be as well to say a few words here as to our 
achievements up to date, and to consider what would 
have happened had the Dunsterforce not been in position 
on the Kermanshah-Hamadan-Kasvin road in February 
and March 1918 to thwart the Turks in these partg. It 




CO- 



THE LAST STAGE TO THE SEA 173 

is obvious that in such a case enemy detachments would 
have occupied Bijar and Zinjan, bringing them into direct 
touch with the Jangalis, and enormously strengthening 
the position of the latter. In April, May and June, had 
we not been on the spot to co-operate with Bicherakov 
against the Jangalis, the latter would have offered no 
opposition to the passage of the Cossacks through their 
country, and there would have been no inducement for 
Bicherakov to go out of his way to fight people who were 
not intending to molest him. His interest in Persia had 
entirely ceased, and his only desire was to get his troops 
out of the country and into the Caucasus, a desire which 
accorded in every way with the feelings of Kuchik Khan, 
who would be only too glad to facilitate his departure. 
The Jangali Army, under its German and Austrian leaders, 
with supplies of arms and munitions from the Turks 
would therefore have encountered no opposition in their 
advance on Kasvin and Teheran, and the armed population 
of Hamadan and other towns under their democratic 
leaders would have raised the Jangali banner and joined 
the revolution. The whole of North Persia would have 
been overrun with Bolshevism (into which Kuchikism 
would soon have degenerated) ; the British Legation 
in Teheran, the staff of the Imperial Bank and Indo- 
European telegraph, the Consuls and the missionaries 
would have had to flee the country and would have been 
lucky to escape with their lives. It may seem going 
rather far afield to build all these surmises on the 
prospects of success of such an army as Kuchik Khan's, 
but I do not consider the lurid picture which I have 
drawn of possible contingencies to be in the least 
exaggerated. 

Finally, with North Persia in a state of Bolshevism, 
the remainder of Persia following suit and linking up with 
Turkestan, and whole of Central Asia and Afghanistan 
would be thrown into chaos. This is exactly what the 



174 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Germans were playing for in these parts, and it makes one's 
blood run cold to think how near they were to a gigantic 
success. It may fairly be claimed that the action of our 
force was the sole cause of complete failure of this far- 
reaching effort of German diplomacy. 



CHAPTER XI 
TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 

GETTING back to Kasvin had quite a sort of home 
feeling about it. 

What a different Kasvin to the one that had made 
faces at us in February ! Now there was nothing but 
smiles and polite attentions. The Governor called to 
inquire after my health, the Rais-i-telefon beamed grate- 
fully as I passed him in my car in the High Street and the 
inhabitants generally looked cheerful and friendly. We 
had by this time given English names to all the streets in 
these Persian towns to facilitate the giving of directions 
to drivers. Thus Oxford Street, Piccadilly and the Strand 
greeted one in each town with a cheery reminiscence of 
the Homeland. 

The imposing of such a nomenclature on the streets 
of these historic towns may savour somewhat of vandalism, 
and we had many kind suggestions as to a more suitable 
series of names commemorating the heroes of ancient 
history. These suggestions made a strong appeal to our 
artistic sense, but in war time the artistic must give way 
to the purely utilitarian. Names were chosen which the 
lorry drivers would remember and which would cheer 
them up. Memories of Rustam the valorous, and other 
Persian heroes of the glorious past, would have been quite 
beyond their powers of appreciation or of memory. 

It is quite probable that these names made Cyrus, 

175 



176 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Darius, Xerxes and Alexander the Great turn in their 
graves ; if so I regret it. In spite of our historic sur- 
roundings we had to be ultra-modern ; and I am sure 
that the names of the streets cannot have been half so 
distressing to the spirits of the ancient heroes as my 
"Daylight Saving BiU." 

As we approached the period of long summer days, it 
seemed a pity to be letting all that daylight run to waste, 
so I ordered all clocks to be put forward two hours. Great 
consternation reigned for forty-eight hours, and after that 
the new time seemed no more remarkable than the old. 
The scheme was a great success from my point of view, 
but a dead failure from every one else's. It certainly 
resulted in my getting two more hours a day work out 
of every one, which constituted the success I aimed at, 
though just how it achieved this happy result it is dijQ&cult 
to explain. At first sight it looks as if the account would 
balance itself. You commence the day two hours earlier 
and you end it two hours earlier. But in practice those 
two extra hours do come into the work- time somehow, 
and one still has plenty of time for exercise and recreation. 
And it is remarkable how one's mind is deceived by one's 
watch. If I had ordered convoys to start at 4 a.m. 
the drivers and travellers would have felt aggrieved, but 
when they looked at their watches and saw the hands 
pointing to 6 a.m. (although they still knew it was 4 a.m. 
by real time) they were quite cheerful about it. 

The drivers had on the whole a rather worried time of 
it in these days. Not only were their watches put forward 
two hours, but from Hamadan northwards they had to 
have a new rule of the road to meet the Russian or Persian 
traffic rule, " Keep to the right." If, in addition to fic- 
titious time and a new rule of the road they had also 
been confronted with streets named after Persian heroes, 
they would have gone mad. It was only just the cheery 
sign of Piccadilly and Leicester Square that prevented 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 1T7 

them from feeling that they were living in Wonderland 
with the March Hare and Alice. 

If we had been isolated, both the new time and the 
change in the rule of the road would have worked quite 
simply, but as we had now through connection with 
Baghdad and there was a constant stream of traffic up 
and down the road, the sudden change on entering and 
leaving my area was too much to impose on the men, 
and eventually I had to give up the daylight scheme. 
The rule of the road had to be enforced, but it was very 
hard on drivers to have to remember " Keep to the left '* 
as far as Hamadan, and from there on " Keep to the right,*' 
and after a month in my area, having become accustomed 
to ** Keep to the right," to pass down the road again 
and get run in for not keeping to the left. 

About this time Hamadan began to misbehave, and 
it was necessary for the Governor (the same man who 
had been Assistant Governor on our first arrival here) and 
Ferid-ud-Dowleh, the leader of the Extreme Democrats, to 
be removed elsewhere. From the date of their departure 
all troubles in Hamadan ceased. The Hamadan levies, 
under Colonel Donnan, were beginning to look quite smart 
and soldierlike, and were already doing useful work. 
The supply question was no longer acute. But another 
fresh trouble occurred in the shape of a money famine. 

The actual currency in Persia is not very extensive 
and our demands were now very large. The problem 
was how, after being drained of all their coin to meet 
our requirements, the Bank was to attract the cash back 
to their vaults (through the medium of depositors and in 
payment of bills of exchange on London) with sufficient 
rapidity to meet our next cheque. As our requirements 
increased daily, it was necessary that the krans paid out 
to us at one door, and disbursed by us to our creditors, 
should immediately enter the Bank by another door to 
be in time to meet our further demands. Thanks to the 

13 



178 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

ingenuity and skill of Mr. McMurray, the manager of the 
Imperial Bank of Persia at Hamadan, the circulation was 
maintained at the high speed necessary to cover these 
transactions. How he did it no one knows ; but the 
miraculous feat was accomplished, and though the horror 
of a possible financial crisis was added to that of all the 
other crises, the crash was always averted. Our paymaster, 
Major Whitmarsh, lived through very anxious times, and 
his task was not one to be envied. 

In view of the probable advent of troops, huts for 
their accommodation had to be run up at Hamadan and 
Kasvin, and the staff of engineers under Major Haslam, 
R.E., was kept very busy. 

We now received an addition to our strength in the 
advent of a party of the Royal Navy under Commodore 
Norris, R.N., and several four-inch guns were on their 
way up from Baghdad to enable us to " rule the waves," 
once we could get a chance of arming merchantmen on 
the Caspian. 

Colonel Battine also arrived and was selected, owing 
to his knowledge of the Russian language, to take a party 
to Krasnovodsk, the port on the Turkestan side of the 
Caspian immediately opposite to Baku. The Krasnovodsk 
situation was a very favourable one, the strategical 
importance of that port being only second to that of 
Baku as, in the event of the latter being taken by the 
Turks, we could hold the former and still keep the 
gate to Central Asia closed to the enemy. The Govern- 
ment of Krasnovodsk, under a most able railway 
engineer of the name of Kuhn, was strongly anti- 
Bolshevik and pro-British. 

From Krasnovodsk the railway runs to Askhabad and 
Merv, and a strong Bolshevik force was operating in the 
neighbourhood of Merv, against which a mission under 
General Malleson had been sent which was moving north 
from Meshed on to this railway. Colonel Battine at 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 179 

Krasnovodsk would be able to work in with Kuhn and 
assist the operations of General Malleson's mission. 

Lieut. -Colonel Rawlinson, R.F.A., also reported his 
arrival and was at once placed on special duty as an 
expert in camouflage and extemporized motor machine- 
gun work, in which he excelled. 

With our eyes fixed on the Caucasus we had none the 
less to keep a very sharp look-out on our left and left 
rear aganist the activities of the Turks from the direction 
of Tabriz and Urumiah. The situation at the latter place 
must be described. 

The town and district of Urumiah lying on the west of 
Lake Urumiah, the southern shore of which is distant 
about 220 miles from Hamadan, contain a population 
estimated at about 80,000, the majority of whom belong 
to the two Christian communities of the Armenian Church 
and the Assyrian Church, the latter possessing the tribal 
name of Jilus. The district had for the past year been 
entirely surrounded by the 5th and 6th Turkish Divisions, 
against whom the Christian inhabitants had so far put 
up a very good fight ; in fact in a recent sortie they had 
signally defeated the Turks, taking a large number of 
officers and men prisoners and capturing considerable 
war material. The Jilus were trained and led by a body 
of Russian officers, who had been sent to them for the 
purpose, under the command of Colonel Kuzmin. Latterly 
there appeared to have been some misunderstanding 
between the Jilus and their Russian staff, several officers 
of the latter having been killed by their men. The rights 
and wrongs of this trouble I was never able to ascertain, 
but it seems that the Assyrians suspected treachery on 
the part of the Russians. Aga Petros, the spiritual and 
temporal leader of the Jilus appears to have been a man 
of considerable character and had the reputation of 
bravery and skill in action. 

At this time our party under Major Starnes in Bijar 



180 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

was within 120 miles of the Jilu territory, but the Turkish 
Army intervened at Sauj-Bulaq. The two Turkish divi- 
sions were very weak, being certainly well under half 
strength, and the portion south of the lake was quite 
insignificant. 

The Jilus had got a messenger through to us some time 
before this, asking for help in the matter of arms, ammu- 
nition and money. This help we were quite ready to 
render and a reply was sent by aeroplane directing them 
to fight their way through the Turkish cordon south of 
the lake and meet us at Sain-Kaleh on a certain date, 
when a party of ours would hand over to them the arms 
and ammunition asked for. 

The weakness of the Turks in this neighbourhood 
suggested the consideration of a plan for permanently 
ousting them from this area, and for securing the line from 
Bijar to Urumiah by our own troops. It appeared that 
only in this way could the Jilus be finally saved from the 
Turks, as the pressure of the latter would eventually 
compel surrender in the ordinary course of events. We 
had, however, too many irons in the fire to permit of this 
scheme being entertained, and in any case before it could 
have been brought into operation the Jilus solved the 
problem for themselves in another way. 

According to the pre-arranged scheme they broke 
through the Turkish troops south of the lake and met 
our party who had gone up to take the arms and ammu- 
nition to them. But there was some delay in their return ; 
wild rumours were spread in Urumiah to the effect that 
they had all been slaughtered ; and the whole population, 
men, women and children, with all their cattle and be- 
longings came flying down the road to Bijar in appalling 
confusion, with the Turks and Kurds on their heels mas- 
sacring and plundering the unfortunate refugees. As soon 
as they came into contact with our troops the latter 
formed a rear-guard, and the remainder of the population, 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 181 

probably some 50,000, were rescued and sent down to 
Baghdad. These events took place at a much later date 
than this portion of the general narrative, but the whole 
incident will be more intelligible to the reader if I conclude 
it here. The refugees were cared for by the British 
authorities — rationed and encamped in various localities, 
the strong men being formed into levies and labour corps 
and the others, together with the women and the cattle, 
settled in an encampment in Mesopotamia. They are 
now being repatriated. 

So many questions required discussion and explanation 
that I thought it would be best to make a hurried trip to 
General Head Quarters, Baghdad ; but before doing so 
I should have to visit Teheran to get the Minister's opinion 
on several matters. 

I accordingly left for Teheran on July 4th, arriving 
the same day. I found Sir Charles Marling installed in 
his summer residence at Gulahek, about 17 miles outside 
Teheran. The Legation grounds at Gulahek are even 
more striking than those in Teheran. The house stands 
on the slopes of the, foot-hills of the main Elburz chain 
in a beautiful English -looking wood, with rippling streams 
of clear water running through the grounds in channels 
lined with turquoise-blue tiles. My stay in this delightful 
spot was necessarily short, and on July 7th I was back 
in Kasvin arranging for my further trip to Baghdad. 

I was particularly sorry to have to leave Teheran at 
this time, as the capital was in the throes of a " Cabinet 
Crisis," and it would have been interesting to watch the 
progress of this political upheaval, w^hich excited only 
very mild comment in this land of topsy-turvydom and 
which finally proved abortive. 

I could ill afford the time for a trip to Baghdad, and 
it seemed best therefore to endeavour to carry out the 
journey by aeroplane. I begged for a two-seater plane 
to be sent up to fetch me down ; an endeavour was made 



182 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

to comply with my request, but with the hot-weather 
conditions in the Mesopotamian plains it proved impossible 
to get the plane up to me, and I was informed that it 
would only be possible to convey my by plane the last 
80 miles from Mir j ana : even in such a short distance 
the saving in time would be considerable. 

No news had yet been received from Bicherakov's 
force, and I was naturally very anxious to hear how his 
adventure was progressing. The possibility of our getting 
to Baku either through the medium of his assistance or 
on our own, appeared to be daily becoming more hopeful ; 
I was now in touch with Baku by almost daily messengers, 
and our friends the Social Revolutionaries seemed likely 
to be able to bring off shortly the coup-d'etat which was 
to throw out the Bolsheviks, establish a new form of 
government and invite British assistance. To enable 
me to seize this opportunity, which might occur at any 
moment, I still lacked troops ; but I had the welcome 
news that the 39th Infantry Brigade, composed of new 
army regiments, was being dispatched to me with all 
speed in motor-lorries under the command of Lieut. - 
Colonel Faviell. This brigade was composed of the 
following regiments from the midlands of England, the 
7th Service Battalions of the Gloucesters and North 
Staffords and the 9th Service Battalions of the Worcesters 
and War wicks. 

The following extracts from a letter written by me 
from Kasvin on July 13, 1918, will serve to focus events 
up to date : 

" Since last writing to you many changes have taken 
place, and these changes have in a general way been 
favourable to us. 

" The various situations are rather perplexing, but they 
are obviously interdependent, and success on any one 
of the lines reacts favourably on all the others. Omitting 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS. 183 

the kaleidoscopic changes of the Russian revolution which 
affect us very nearly, but are impossible to deal with in 
the scope of an ordinary letter, there are : 

1. The local Persian situation. 

2. The Baku situation. 

3. The Krasnovodsk-Turkestan situation. 

4. The Tabriz Turkish invasion situation. 

5. The Lake Urumiah situation. 

6. The Jangali situation. 

7. The raising of levies and irregulars. 

" 1. The Persian Situation. — From a military point of 
view everything in this part of Persia is satisfactory ; 
troops sufficient for safety are already on their way, 
and there seems a good prospect of my getting in the end 
sufficient troops to enable me to deal successfully with all 
the above situations — all of which are at the present 
moment favourable. 

" The bad morale of the Turkish troops, and the quarrel 
between the Turks and Germans in the Caucasus, suggests 
a bold policy on our part. One division, exclusive of 
line of communication troops, would do all the work. 

" As regards the morale of the Turks, they probably 
have 2,000 men in Tabriz. I have a small party of some 
60 officers and N.C.O.'s on the Kasvin-Mianeh road, of 
which the advanced portion, consisting of one L.A.M. 
car and a few officers under Captain Osborne, was recently 
within a few miles of Tabriz on the Shabli Pass. The 
Turks are probably not aware of my extreme weakness 
here, but they must know that we are not in force ; yet 
the above party was not molested and men desert from 
them to us frequently. 

" From a political point of view it is difficult in a short 
space to convey a correct idea of things. From intercepted 
correspondence it is obvious that a very large number of 
officials are pro -Turk : the people of the country certainly 



184 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

are not. A great deal of propaganda work is carried on 
from the Turkish Legation in Teheran, and the Persian 
Government make no sign of resisting or even protesting 
against the Turkish invasion. 

" I do very little propaganda work, except that I occa- 
sionally yield to the temptation of issuing a proclamation 
putting facts before the people, which may do some good. 
But our real propaganda lies in our presence here, the 
appearance and behaviour of our officers and men and 
the good cash we pay for our requirements. The towns 
are now all behaving well ; all begin with furious anti- 
British agitation and end soon after with most active 
assistance and gratitude for security and order. Taking 
the towns in turn : Enzeli is still run by the Baku Red 
Army, who object to our presence there, but I think they 
are getting accustomed to it, and I gradually increase 
the strength of the detachment there until I shortly hope 
to be able to ignore the revolutionaries. Resht, which 
was in the hands of the Jangalis until a few weeks ago, 
is a large town with hotels and cinemas, filled with 
a heterogeneous collection of Persians, Greeks and 
Armenians. It is distinctly pro-British, but I have 
not had time to clean it up properly yet. Captain 
Cockerell, my A.P.M., is the last word in A.P.M.'s, 
and has the worst conspirators either eating out of 
Lis hand or locked up in less than no time. When 
I can get him down to Resht the town won't know 
itself. 

" Kasvin has ceased anti-British agitation. The 
religious leaders drink tea with me ; the leading 
democrats, Turkish agents and others are either in prison 
or have fled. By the excellent Intelligence system run 
by Saunders I can produce a list of principal inhabitants 
showing their exact degree of guilt. 

" Hamadan, since the arrest of the Governor and of the 
chief firebrand Ferid-ud-Dowleh, is quite quiet and has 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 185 

not forgotten to be grateful for famine relief, which in 
the early days when I had no troops was of more value 
than many machine-guns. Bijar, Mianeh and Zinjan 
are all quiet and contented. With all this I do not allow 
myself to be lulled into a false sense of security, and I 
am prepared to meet an outbreak at any time in any of 
these towns. With aU the enemy activity around us 
and the weakness of my small isolated parties in distant 
areas the risk is considerable, and the marvel is that 
nothing has so far happened. Zinjan is held to be 
fanatical, pro-Turk and anti-British. On the entry of 
my party into the town two of their servants were 
murdered in the streets by day for serving the British, 
yet the total strength of my party there had to be at one 
time as low as twenty officers and N.C.O.'s. But we 
grow stronger every day and the risks are less. 

" The capital is quite unlike the rest of Persia. It 
still keeps up real neutrality, and the first sight on entering 
the town is the flags of the German and Turkish Embassies. 
An Austrian officer, whom I rode up to to have a good look 
at, startled me by taking off his hat and bowing. The 
Parliament does not sit, and the Cabinet is quite useless 
and any work it does is against our interests. I have 
just returned from Teheran, where I stayed three days 
with the Minister. A Cabinet crisis was in progress, but 
showed no signs of becoming serious. Teheran is the 
centre of all enemy propaganda, as it not only contains 
the enemy Legations, but is a harbour of refuge for all 
the firebrands in the provincial towns whom I fail to 
arrest. 

" As regards the general military situation, the time is 
ripe for bold action on our part. The Armenians are 
not yet finished, and continue to hold their own bravely 
in isolated localities such as Alexandropol and Urumiah. 
The Turks are sick of the war and sick of the Germans 
and have no money. The Germans are quarrelling with 



186 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

the Turks and finding it harder to put up troops than we 
do. The Turks want to take Baku, the Germans want 
to stop them from doing so. 

"2. The Baku Situation. — The power is still in the 
hands of the Sovietski Vlast (let us call them S.V.'s), 
another name for the Bolsheviks. They are in touch 
with the Central Committee at Moscow, but are daily 
losing power. It seems probable that the Social Revo- 
lutionary party (called S.R.'s for short) may oust them 
at any time. But as Baku depends on Astrakhan for 
food and ammunition it will not pay the S.R.'s to turn 
the S.V.'s out until similar action has been successful in 
Astrakhan. I interviewed Cheliapin at Enzeli a few 
days ago and attach a short precis of our conversation, 
from which it will be seen how uncompromising is the 
attitude of the S.V.'s. 

" I have had several talks with the S.R.'s, whose pro- 
gramme is far more suitable for our purposes and is con- 
structive instead of being, like that of the S.V.'s, purely 
destructive. They want our aid, especially financially. 
I keep on friendly terms with the S.R.'s, and they know 
they could rely on us for a great deal if they got the 
power into their hands. 

" Richer akov sailed for Alyat at the beginning of the 
month, taking with him five of my officers and four 
armoured cars. I went to see him off at Enzeli and we 
mutually agreed on plans which give great hope of success, 
but which I will not repeat here. He has caused great 
consternation among the other Russians by throwing in 
his lot with the Bolsheviks, but I am sure he is right. 
^/ It was the only way to get a footing, and once he is 
established it will be a case of the tail wagging the dog. 

" None but myself, Russian or English, believes in 
him, but I do so sincerely. In any case I should have to 
compel myself to believe in him, as he is literally our 
only hope at the present moment. He is all for Russia, 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 187 

and the plans he intends to carry out are in the interests 
of Russia in general and the North Caucasus in particular, 
but they entirelj^ coincide with our interests. 

" I have had practically no news of him since he left 
and I am naturally anxious. His whole scheme may be 
a failure, the risks are great and the temper of his men 
a little uncertain. The Russians here all think they wdll 
desert when they get near their homes. I do not share 
this opinion, though I think some may go. 

" 3. The Krasnovodsk Situation from our point of view 
has not developed. I am sending on a small body of 
officers and men, to see how they are received. If the 
cotton there can be saved from the Germans it will be a 
great thing ; at present it is being shipped up the Volga 
via Astrakhan for their use. Turkestan is hard to under- 
stand just at present and the news we get is very conflicting, 
but there seems no doubt that the people are inclined 
to put politics on one side and to accept any form of 
foreign aid that will lead to a restoration of order. Next 
in importance to the cotton question is the question of 
the very large number — possibly 30,000 — of German and 
Austrian released prisoners in Turkestan. If my mission 
is well received it might be possible seriously to hamper 
German movements towards Afghanistan in the event 
of their capturing Baku. 

" 4. The Tabriz Situation. — The Turks have established 
themselves in Tabriz and have probably about 2,000 men 
there. I do not see that they have much chance of increas- 
ing their strength without altering their present plans in 
the Caucasus. I do not think that they contemplate an 
invasion of Persia via Zinjan and Kasvin, but if they do 
I should soon have sufficient troops to secure that line. 
They would like to draw off my troops in that direction 
and content themselves with the occupation of just the 
north corner of Azerbaijan, including Ardebil and the 
port of Astara on the Caspian. They would then join 



188 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

hands with the Jangalis, and their scheme would, if 
successful, at the cost of very few troops give them (a) sup- 
plies, (6) a port upon the Caspian, (c) the cutting off from 
the South Caspian of British movements. They have no 
enterprise, however, or they would long ago have turned 
my detachment out of Mianeh, whereas they allowed a 
very small party to remain on the Shabli Pass till quite 
recently. Owing to the defection of the Persian Cossacks 
who it was hoped would act with my party, the L.A.M. 
car was nearly captured, and the Turkish failure to do 
so shows how little they are worth. 

" 5. The Lake Urumiah Situation. — This is the most 
interesting of all, and promises most. All the schemes 
are interdependent, and our success in Urumiah would 
mean moving the Turks from Tabriz, joining up with 
the Armenians near Alexandropol, threatening the whole 
of the Turkish movement in the Caucasus, and helping 
Baku and the Caspian situation. 

** An aeroplane flew on July 9th to Mianeh, where we 
had prepared a landing-ground and small stock of petrol. 
On the 10th it flew to Urumiah, returned to Mianeh, picked 
up petrol and returned here after a most successful flight. 
Lieutenant Pennington, the aviator, carried a message 
from me to Aga Petros, the fighting cleric of the Assyrians. 
On alighting he was received with a most tremendous 
ovation, having to submit to having his hands and knees 
kissed by almost the entire population. The town being 
entirely surrounded by the Turks had had no news for 
about four months. They were certain that we had no 
troops in Persia and were equally certain that we had taken 
Mosul. They were therefore on the point of fighting 
their way through to us in Mosul — a population of 80,000 
with perhaps 10,000 fighting men. The result would 
have been a terrible massacre of Christians and the 
needless surrender of Urumiah to the Turks. 

" All this Pennington was just in time to prevent. We 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 189 

are taking ammunition up to them and have arranged 
to meet at Sainkaleh on July 22nd, they fighting their 
way through the Turks at Sauj Bulaq, where there is no 
great force. The whole of the Turkish division is in the 
area south-west of the lake, but the division is weak and 
dispersed and the operation should be successful. If it 
prove successful and I can follow up with British troops 
and hold the line Hamadan to Urumiah, we outflank 
Tabriz and secure rich crops which the Turks are now 
engaged in reaping. 

** 6. The Jangali Situation. — The Jangali bubble was 
pricked at last on June 12th, when Bicherakov fought 
the Battle of Menjil Bridge with his Cossacks and one 
squadron 14th Hussars. . . . The aeroplanes are especially 
useful, as troops fighting through the dense jungle would 
be terribly handicapped and casualties would be high. 

"7. Levies and Irregulars. — We have now three groups 
of levies at Hamadan and Kasvin, with a total of 800 
men. They have already been useful in holding posts 
on the roads and passes and in forming escorts. They 
are good value as a political move, and are quite useful 
to the above extent ; but I never expect to use them 
against the Turks. 

" The irregulars are being raised by Wagstaff from 
among the Shahsavens and by Stames from among the 
Kurds at Bijar. I wish them to be not merely mercenaries 
but to be actuated in the first place by a dislike of the 
Turk and a desire to fight him on their own ground. 
They will only be assembled for short periods to carry 
out raids. Both the Shahsavens and Kurds ought to 
work well on these lines. 

" The Turks are playing the same game, and I have 
told my parties that their first efforts should be directed 
to countering the enemy's schemes. 

" In the early days of the war the Germans were badly 
let down by their levies, to whom they paid vast sums of 



J 19a THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

money, in exchange for which the levies did nothing and 
deserted when trouble came ; I am therefore working on 
a system of payment by results, which should prove 
satisfactory. We have not armed either the levies 
or the irregulars, so they have no temptation to desert. 

" In conclusion I should like to repeat what I said 
earlier in my letter, that a great deal of our success here 
has been due to the demeanour of the few troops under 
my command. The general appearance and behaviour of 
the N.C.O.'s has produced a most favourable impression 
on the Persians, and they realize that the British soldier 
is a very different article to any soldier they have met 
before. From intercepted letters I learn that Kuchik 
Khan complains that he finds it hard to work up any 
feeling against us, as we do nothing to arouse the resent- 
ment of the populace — he wishes we would.'* 

The following is a note recording the conversation 
between myself and Cheliapin at Enzeli on June 28th : 

" Cheliapin is the same leader who presided at the 
meetings at Enzeli in February, when the combined com- 
mittees of Bolsheviks and Jangalis prevented the departure 
of the first party of Dunsterforce for Baku. Many of the 
delegates are quite interesting men to meet, but Cheliapin 
is of the worst type. He is convinced of his own wisdom, 
but he is thoroughly stupid and has very little education ; 
he is dictatorial in his manner, talks loudly and has no 
desire to hear the other side of the question. Like many 
of the peasant class he is cunning and suspicious, and the 
absolute honesty of my arguments and intentions only 
intensify his belief in my treachery. His mental attitude 
is pugnacious and his mouth is filled with all the well-worn 
tags of revolutionary orators. He can talk for hours in 
a rasping and unpleasant voice, but is quite incapable of 
making a single original remark. 




MiRZA KucHiK Khan : returned to civil life 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 191 

" He suspects Great Britain of having taken advantage 
of Russia's temporary difficulties to seize North Persia, 
and he will not believe me when I explain that our occupa- 
tion of this country was due to (a) the necessity of guarding 
our right flank in Mesopotamia, (6) the desire to keep 
a road open from Baghdad to Baku to help the Caucasus. 

** I am inclined to believe that Cheliapin is an honest 
patriot, but I fancy his brother revolutionaries suspect 
him of feathering his nest 

" Like most Russians he sees a deep ulterior motive in 
any action on the part of Great Britain, and credits English- 
men with a Machiavellian cleverness that is quite the 
opposite of the English character. My frank statement 
to him that we took no side in the revolution, and that 
we came to the Caucasus only to help the people to keep 
out the Germans and Turks, was the only thing that made 
him smile during the whole conversation. He certainly 
believes that we want to capture and hold for all time the 
Baku oilfields, to obtain various mineral concessions in 
the Caucasus, and to reinstate the Czar. His only wise 
remark (which was probably not original) was, ' Whether 
you like the Bolsheviks or not, you make a great mistake 
in not recognizing them. The Germans at once wisely 
recognized the Bolsheviks and then attacked them ; you 
refuse to recognize them and yet you ofter them help.' 

" The only change his attitude had undergone since our 
last meeting was that on the former occasion he said, 
* We have no quarrel with the Germans now that peace 
has been declared and we like them better than we do 
you.' He now says : * Germany has betrayed us, and we 
will fight agamst the Germans to the last drop of our blood.' 
Of the Jangalis he used to say : * They are good, honest 
patriots fighting, like us, against a criminal monarchy for 
freedom and the rights of man.' He now says : * The 
Jangalis are merely highway robbers and should be 
exterminated,' 



192 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" The term * Sovietsld Vlast ' is now used instead of 
* Bolsheviks.' Sovietski Vlast means the power of councils. 
It is meant to include the revolutionaries of all parties. 

" The Social Revolutionary party (called the S.R.'s for 
short) are a party of growing strength who will probably 
oust the Sovietski Vlast in a short time. It is their declared 
intention to do so. I asked Cheliapin about this and he 
said, * The idea is absurd ; they work with us on our com- 
mittees, where they have a proportion of representative 
commissaries.' This sounds very well, but the Baku S.R.'s 
told me they refused to accept the offer and had refused 
to appoint any commissaries or work with the Sovietski 
Vlast. 

" Cheliapin wished England to help Baku with arms 
and motor-cars in exchange for oil and petrol. All 
offers of troops or military instructors were out of the 
question. 

" His chief argument against the introduction of British 
troops into Baku was that the Germans in North Russia 
would at once retaliate by taking Petrograd and Moscow. 
Finally he said, * It is no use you and I talking, we should 
never agree. It is impossible for one hke me who knows 
what freedom means to talk to one who subjects himself 
to a King and Crown ! ' " 

To show the sort of anti-British propaganda that was 
being worked against us at Baku at this time I give this 
interesting extract from a Baku newspaper dated July 
16, 1918. 

" The English in Persia. 

" When the question of the occupation of North- Western 
Persia was decided on by the English Imperialists the whole 
country, the entire people, who are generally passive and 
quiet, were filled with disgust. 

" Their helpless cries of anguish, horror and hate must 



TURKS, INFIDELS AND HERETICS 193 

have reached the ears of the Russian slaves of English 
money, but their ears are deaf when convenient. 

" The half-wild, famished, powerless people gathered 
into bands and threw themselves at every car or cart 
that they suspected to be carrying English. 

*' There were cases of murder. 

" The rebels did not allow cars to pass if Persian silver 
was found on the passengers in large quantities, as the 
only source of this silver for Persians was the EngHsh 
Bank, the buying and bribing capacity of which is well 
known to the Persians. 

" The leaders of Persian democrats in vain tried to turn 
the stream of popular indignation into a channel of fruitless 
protests. 

" When the English delegation arrived at Enzeli with 
General Dunsterville at its head on their way to Tiflis in 
order to bring pressure to bear on the Trans-Caucasian 
Government, the representatives of the Persian Social 
Democratic Committee held guard at the Russian IVIihtary 
Revolutionary Committee, and were only satisfied when 
it was settled that General Dunsterville would not be 
allowed to pass to Tiflis but would * clear off ' to Mesopo- 
tamia. For the Persians know that the wheel of an 
EngUsh Ford is more destructive than the hoof of the 
Hun's horse. 

" Between Hamadan and Kasvin, near Ab-i-Garm, the 
Persians killed the passengers of a Russian lorry and a 
Ford, in all ten people, suspecting that they were English. 

" The hostihty of the Jangalis to the Russian troops 
arose only because they could not convince the latter that 
they ought not to be the instruments of the Imperialism 
of the EngHsh. Even after his defeat by Bicherakov, with 
the few remnants of his dispersed force, Kuchik Khan at- 
tacked convoys and is still attacking English Fords, braving 
the armoured cars and machine-guns. (During one of the 
attacks the English had some men killed and wounded.) 

14 



194 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" Arrivals from Enzeli say that Kuchik Khan has again 
gathered his force, and with new vigour has commenced 
guerilla warfare against the English. The exploitation of 
the native populations in the English colonies and occupied 
territories where they find no resistance is being carried 
on in the most shameless manner, and the natives are 
treated like cattle. 

" Our soldiers (from Bicherakov*s detachment) who were 
in Mesopotamia fighting in front of the English line reaUzed 
very well the EngHsh tactics * Making other men pull the 
chestnuts out of the fire.' If the EngUsh get you you become 
an Indian (native). This is the result of their labours. 

"... But as soon as the news of the Russo-German 
peace arrived and the Russian soldiers voted a return home, 
the attitude towards them changed and the British annoyed 
them in all ways. 

" The wounded and sick that returned from Baghdad 
say that the insults became intolerable and the treatment 
from the doctors was disgusting. 

" The hero of R. Kipling's story complains that since 
India has had seK-government, the * naukar ' does not 
pronounce the word * Sahib ' with sufficient respect. 
General Dunsterville, Colonels Rowlandson and Clutter - 
buck, are specialists in trading in live stock obtained 
from Russian Counter-revolutionaries, and may they be 
content. The figure of the social * naukar ' is already 
seen, with its hand to its forehead humbly murmuring 
' Salaam '. . , " This completes the effusion. 

The sneer at the Russian Counter-revolutionaries was 
of course meant to be a hit at my Russian officers. The 
statements about the feeling of Bicherakov's men towards 
the British force in Mesopotamia, alongside of whom they 
were fighting, are entirely untrue, and are inserted solely 
for reasons of hate propaganda. The real feeling was one 
of sincere friendship. 



CHAPTER XII 
IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 

ON July 14th I left by motor-car with Captain Bray, 
and arrived at the Head Quarters of the 14th Division 
at Mir j ana, 400 miles from Kasvin, on the evening of 
July 17th, continuing my journey by aeroplane on the 
next day, and arriving at Baghdad just at daybreak on 
July 18th. 

We were glad to note on the way down the enormous 
improvement in the road. Work is being seriously under- 
taken on the whole stretch from Kermanshah to Khanikin, 
and it now bears no resemblance to the snow-covered 
track and seas of mud over which we pushed our cars 
in February. 

I remained at General Head Quarters, Baghdad, for 
forty-eight hours, leaving again by aeroplane to Qasr-i- 
Shirin, 106 miles, on July 20th, and thence by car 160 
miles, reaching Kermanshah the same evening, a very 
good day's work. On July 22nd I inspected Major 
Macarthy's group of levies near Hamadan, and was 
extremely pleased with their progress. They were 
drawn up in line, with the cavalry on the right as at 
an inspection of regular troops, and a band performed 
throughout the inspection with remarkable rigour. 

On July 23rd, after a good many breakdowns on the 
road due to bursting of tyres and engine trouble, we 
arrived at Kasvin, having been absent for nine days, 

105 



106 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

during which much had been taking place. My visit to 
Baghdad, which was very necessary, had been carried 
out just in the nick of time, as it was obvious that we 
were now on the verge of the Baku enterprise. 

At Baghdad I had been able to discuss many minor 
but important points as well as the major points of Urumiah 
and the question of petrol supply. The authorities at 
first were horrified at my suggestion to exchange motor- 
cars for petrol, but petrol was indispensable. The Baku 
people would give it on no other terms, and the purchas- 
ing price was extremely favourable. Mesopotamia re- 
quired every car they could get, but the small number 
I required formed a hardly appreciable proportion of 
the available supply, and my demands were accordingly 
agreed to. 

I received news at last of Bicherakov's movements, 
which I was sorry to hear had not met with any great 
measure of success. Disembarking his force at Alyat on 
July 5th, he had hastened forward to take over the com- 
mand of the Baku Red Army operating astride of the 
Tiflis railway towards the bridge at Yeldakh over the 
Kura River. His own troops were hurried up to stiffen 
the Red Army, who seemed to be very lacking in enter- 
prise, and who were already being driven back by the 
Turks. All hope of securing the bridge had gone owing 
to the pusillanimous behaviour of the Baku troops, who 
had allowed the Turks to possess themselves of this all- 
important point without making any great effort to 
thwart them. 

The Caucasus-Islam army might still be beaten in the 
field, but Bicherakov soon found to his disgust that no 
reliance at all could be placed on the Red Army troops, 
who frequently gave ground without firing a shot, and 
his own men were all that he could count on for any real 
fighting. Under these circumstances there was nothing 
to be done but to fall back on Baku, contesting each mile 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 197 

of ground and delaying th© onemy sufficiently to enabl* 
the Baku people to prepare a proper line of defence 
covering the town, a precautionary measure which they 
altogether neglected. As an example of the behaviour 
of the Red Army troops I will relate an incident that 
resulted in the loss of one of our armoured cars at this 
time. 

Bicherakov ordered a reconnaissance to be carried 
out by one of his Cossack squadrons supported by a 
British armoured car. The party passed over a bridge 
which was held by a strong detachment of the Red Army, 
and they impressed on the commander of this detach- 
ment the importance of his post, as this bridge carried 
the road over an impassable nullah on their only line 
of withdrawal. The reconnoitring party carried out 
their duties and proceeded to withdraw. On arrival at 
the bridge they found that it was in the hands of the 
Turks. The Cossack cavalry put up a very good fight 
in the endeavour to regain possession, and to cover the 
withdrawal of the armoured car, but the effort did not 
succeed ; the cavalry suffered very heavy losses, and the 
armoured car fell into the hands of the Turks. One can- 
not help smiling at the idea of troops in action leaving 
their posts to attend political meetings, but these comic 
incidents have tragic endings, and in this case the amusing 
behaviour of the Red Army soldiers meant the lives of 
many brave men and the loss of the armoured car. When 
freedom is carried to the extent of permitting men to 
leave their military duties during the progress of an 
action, war becomes impossible. 

This is the first example of such failure of duty recorded 
in the history of this campaign, but it will not be the last. 
We soon learnt that such conduct was the rule and not 
the exception. 

Arising from such behaviour on the part of the Red 
Army soldiers a feeling of dislike and hostility grew up 



198 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

between the Cossacks and them, which ended in Bichera- 
kov severing his connection with these worthless troops. 
Throughout July he made every endeavour to stem the 
Turkish advance, but his efforts, unsupported by the 
local troops, were in vain. 

In the last days of July the Red Army and Bichera- 
kov's force were driven back into Baku, and the Caucasus- 
Islam army may be said to have practically captured 
the town ; that is to say, they were in full possession 
of the heights above it and within 3,000 yards of the 
wharves, with no troops opposing them. 

But at this moment one of those miracles occurred 
which seemed so frequently to intervene to defer the 
actual fall of Baku. For no reason that can yet be ascer- 
tained, the Turks, in the hour of their victory, were 
seized with an unaccountable panic and turned and 
fled. It is said that their flight was due to a rumour 
that their rear was being threatened by a large cavalry 
force, but whatever the cause may have been, the result 
was that the entire army turned and ran, hotly pursued 
by the Armenian troops, who returned to Baku, proudly 
(but falsely) asserting that it was they who had saved 
the town. 

During the progress of this fighting Bicherakov realized 
that the Red Army leaders were trying to force him into 
a position whence retirement would be impossible, and 
where it was equally certain that in the hour of danger 
they would afford him no support. They had come to 
the conclusion that his professions of Bolshevism had only 
been a pretence to enable him to get a footing in the 
Caucasus (which was a very right conjecture), and that 
he was ready to turn round on them at the first oppor- 
tunity. They therefore decided to forestall this move by 
rounding on him and pushing him into the arms of the 
Turks. 

The knowledge of this intention on their part caused 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 199 

Bicherakov to separate his force entirely from the town 
troops, and to draw off to the north between Baladjari 
Railway Station and the seacoast. From here he could 
again join in the fight from a very advantageous point 
on the left flank of the Turks, if the town did not fall ; 
and if the town fell, he had a good line of retreat up the 
railway to Derbend, where he would be sure of water 
and supplies. His position had been rendered extremely 
critical during the last few days, owing to the failure of 
the Baku Committee to meet any of his demands for 
ammunition or supplies ; and signs of a Turkish movement 
towards the railway line on his right eventually led him 
to decide on severing his connection with Baku and 
continuing his retreat to Derbend. The Baku people 
regarded this as a betrayal, and Bicherakov as a traitor ; 
but we ourselves found later what impossible people they 
were to deal with, and had equally to withdraw our troops 
to save them from being needlessly sacrificed. 

At the same time, this move of his at this juncture was 
a fatal mistake. In war time a commander has to form 
rapid decisions and adhere to them. The decision formed 
may be absolutely right in view of the known factors, 
but after action has been commenced an unforeseen factor 
appears that indicates quite another line. Bicherakov 
was right to consider the town as already in the hands 
of the Turks, and this would compel his immediate with- 
drawal, so he accordingly acted in the light of this assump- 
tion. But, as I have described above, the town did 
not fall into the hands of the Turks, and, had the " par- 
tisan " detachment remained in position north of Baku 
and joined hands with us a few days later, Baku would 
never have fallen. All we required later, and entirely 
failed to get, was some sort of stiffening for the local 
troops, some formed body of regular soldiers who could 
set the right example and help us to force reluctant 
troops into the firing line. 



200 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Another fatal mistake which was also made at this 
time by the town troops affords an example of the futility 
of entrusting military operations to men who have not 
been trained to think on military lines. The strategy 
of Baku was directed not by the so-called military authori- 
ties, but by the tinkers and tailors who formed the govern- 
ing committee. The lack of forethought on their part, 
and the lack of cohesion on the part of the troops, robbed 
Baku of the fruits of the mairaculous victory over the 
Turks. The brave troops returning to town to loll in 
restaurants and recount to their admiring women-folk the 
deeds of valour they had accomplished in defeating and 
pursuing the Turks would have been better employed 
had they just carried the pursuit a few yards further, 
driven the Turk off the high ground west of the railway 
line and dug themselves in. Preferring, however, to 
return to the ease and comforts of the town, they left 
this position to the Turks, and thereby rendered any 
further defence of Baku merely a deferring of the evil 
moment. The Turks held this position throughout the 
remainder of the fighting, and, Avith troops that hardly 
knew how to march and obeyed no orders, it was 
impossible to attempt to dislodge them. 

In describing Bicherakov's movements in the course 
of the fighting round Baku up to this point I have got 
beyond the date of the general narrative, but when we 
come to the history of our action in Baku, a knowledge 
of these earlier events will be necessary, and it will make 
it clearer for the ordinary reader if I finish the story of 
Bicherakov's troubles straight away, as I have done in 
the preceding paragraphs, instead of cutting it up into 
fragments to secure an actual sequence of dates. 

We must now get back to Kasvin and follow the moves 
of our own force until they lead us finally to Baku. 

In the middle of July the first detachments of the 
39th Brigade began to arrive in Kasvin. They travelled 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 201 

from Mesopotamia in motor-lorries as far as Hamadan, 
and thence motored or marched, according to whether 
vehicles were obtainable or not, to Enzeli. The greater 
portion did not arrive in the latter port, however, till 
late in August. The Ford cars were in a terrible state, 
and at that moment, when every hour was of value, 
everything seemed to break down, and I was never able 
to get any of the detachm^ents to any destination within 
a liberally estimated limit of time. 

The Jangalis had decided about this time to test the 
mettle of the British troops, who, their German instruc- 
tors informed them, were notoriously cowardly. In the 
one or two small encounters we had already had the 
Jangalis had had reason to wonder if the German estimate 
of the British soldier's fighting powers was quite accurate, 
but still, on the whole, they felt that it was worth while 
having at least one grand attack on the British just to 
see what would happen. 

In fighting irregular troops like the Jangalis it is as 
a rule hard to get them to concentrate and attack, and 
unless they can be induced to do this it is difficult to 
bring matters to a conclusion, and these small campaigns 
drag on and on interminably. We have therefore to 
thank their German commander, von Passchen, very 
much for his success in bringing about the great Battle 
of Resht, which settled the Jangali question once and 
for all, and enabled us to make a sound treaty of peace 
with Kuchik Khan, and to secure the release of Captain 
Noel, who had been a prisoner for over four months in 
their hands. 

At daybreak on July 20th a determined attack on 
the garrison and town of Resht was launched by the Jangali 
troops from the west and south-west. The enemy was 
obviously determined to put matters to the supreme 
test by attacking the British detachment under Colonel 
Matthews, which was billeted outside the southern out- 



202 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

skirts of the town in the vicinity of the Russian Consulate. 
In taking this action the Jangalis were guided by the 
soundest principle of war, namely, to attack and defeat 
the enemy's main force in the field. Such action is, 
how^ever, quite contrary to the tactics of irregular troops 
such as these, and must naturally be attributed to the 
leadership of von Passchen. The entire town was at 
their mercy, and the more usual procedure would have 
been for them to seize and hold the town itself, whence 
we should have had great difficulty in dislodging them, 
once they had secured a firm footing. Their present 
plan was to combine the two operations, and, while their 
best fighting men attacked and destroyed our detach- 
ment (which numbered about 450 rifles of the l/4 Hants 
1/2 Gurkhas, with two mountain guns and two armoured 
cars), the remaining portion were to attack and loot the 
town. The troops allotted to the town attack achieved 
an easy success, the defence of a town with a 7 -mile 
perimeter being, as I have previously pointed out, quite 
beyond the power of our small detachment ; but the defeat 
of their main attack on our troops outside the town, and 
the heavy casualties they suffered in the attempt, reacted 
on the invaders of the town and caused them to put up 
only a very half-hearted resistance when we had leisure 
to set to work to clear them out. 

While the fighting was going on between our troops 
and the pick of the Jangali army on the southern outskirts, 
a large body of the enemy penetrated to the heart of the 
town and attacked the British Consulate, which was 
defended by a garrison of about twenty rifles all told. 
The unfortunate position of this building has already 
been commented on ; it was surrounded by houses which 
overlooked it and from which the enemy snipers could 
fire direct into the courtyard, and reinforcements could 
only reach it directly by passing through a maze of narrow 
and tortuous streets. The normal method of reaching 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 208 

the Consulate from the billets of our detachment on the 
south was to proceed north along the Enzeli road for 
2J miles, then west by the circular road outside the 
town for 1| miles till the Pir-i-Bazar road was reached, 
and then south into the centre of the town, thus 
compassing three-quarters of the perimeter. 

At an early hour in the morning Colonel Matthews 
was notified of the perilous position of the party in the 
British Consulate, and determined to effect their rescue 
by the direct road that lay through the narrow streets 
of the town. It was fortunate that these streets were 
just wide enough to admit the passage of an armoured 
car, if cleverly steered, and the relieving party, accom- 
panied by an armoured car, succeeded after severe 
street-fighting in reaching the Consulate just in time 
and bringing off Mr. Moir and the garrison. 

The relief was effected just as the enemy had succeeded 
in setting fire to the outer doors of the courtyard, and 
in a short time the Consulate would have fallen and its 
occupants would certainly have been massacred. This 
highly successful task was carried out under the command 
of Captain McCleverty, of the 1 /2 Gurkhas, who conducted 
the operation with great skill. 

Repeated attacks on our main body were successfully 
beaten off, and the Jangalis eventually drew off in despair, 
having found the British garrison to be made of very 
different stuff from that which von Passchen had described. 
Kuchik Khan had had about 2,500 men engaged, and 
when they eventually broke off the engagement they 
left over 100 dead on the ground, and fifty prisoners 
in our hands, the latter including several Austrians. 
Our casualties all told amounted to only fifty, and the 
fighting resulted in a victory for our troops that would 
have been even more signal had it been possible to crown 
it with a pursuit. The small number of our troops, the 
nature of the surrounding country, and the fact that 



204 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

the Jangalis were still in possession of the town, prohibited 
any attempt at pursuit, and as the sun set the firing 
entirely ceased, and the main attack was withdrawn ; 
but the actual town remained in the hands of the enemy. 

The operations during the next two days consisted 
of getting the Jangalis out of the town. This involved 
a good deal of street-fighting, but success was mainly 
achieved by aeroplane bombing, which soon rendered 
their retention of the various hotels and public buildings 
impracticable. 

By the end of the month Resht was finally cleared 
of all signs of active Jangali opposition, and came under 
our effective administration. A military governor was 
appointed in place of the Persian Governor, who had 
fled from his unpleasant post, and an excellent intelli- 
gence office got to work under Captain Searight, of the 
Queen's Regiment, who vied with Major Saunders in 
the cleverness and efficiency of his measures. We had 
thus finally secured the road to the Caspian, five months 
after our first hazardous passage in the middle of February. 
Kermanshah, Hamadan, Kasvin, Menjil and Resht were 
in our hands, and it only remained to secure the actual 
port of Kazian (Enzeli) itself. 

The road picquets were kept out for some time longer 
as a precautionary measure, but no further fighting took 
place, and Mirza Kuchik Khan, now reduced to a sensible 
frame of mind, began to sue for peace. 

To return to Kasvin, there was much important work 
to be attended to in that rather troublesome town, while 
we awaited the longed-for summons from Baku. Major 
Browne, of the 44th Indian Infantry, was proving a very 
capable commander at Enzeli, and was working hard to 
clear away the Red Army obstruction in the port. He 
had some rather delicate negotiations in hand at this 
time bearing on this point, and it was very necessary to 
get the obnoxious revolutionary Committee out of the 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 205 

way for a time. They were accordingly invited to visit 
me in Kasvin to discuss some important secret matters 
connected with the question of exchange of motor-cars 
for petrol and other kindred subjects. 

I am glad to say they accepted the invitation with- 
out our having to apply any pressure, and Comrade 
Cheliapin with his following duly presented themselves at 
my Head Quarters — a very meek-looking trio compared 
to the fierce and uncompromising individuals of earlier 
days. They had an uncomfortable feeling that their 
reign at Kazian would soon be drawing to a close, and 
their forebodings were very shortly to be realized. 

They stayed two days with me in Kasvin, which was 
just long enough to enable Major Browne to carry out 
what was necessary at his end of the line ; they lunched 
with me and we drank each others' healths in very cheer- 
ful mood. We had had so much to do with each other 
since the hazardous days of February that our common 
reminiscences almost induced a feeling of friendship. 

What we were trying to get at was the exact nature 
of their relations with Kuchik Khan. We knew that at 
the time of our first visit to Enzeli they were hand-in - 
glove with him, but they had latterly pretended that that 
was merely owing to force of circumstances, and Cheliapin 
had solemnly promised me that they had now broken off 
all relations with the Jangalis. 

To have arrested the Committee merely as Bolsheviks 
would have been taking a false step, and would have 
put the whole of Baku against us. It is obvious that to 
a revolutionary there can be no worse a person than a 
counter-revolutionary ; we were already suspected of 
the latter tendencies, and if we had adopted any course 
of action tending to justify the accusation, we should 
never have been able to acquire any influence in Baku. 
There was to be only one plank in our platform there, 
and that was absolute non-interference with the purely 



206 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

internal affaire of the revolutionaries. The only safe 
grounds, therefore, on which we could attack the Enzeli 
Committee were on a charge of complicity with our 
declared enemies, the Jangalis. 

On his departure from Kasvin Comrade Cheliapin 
very naively gave himself away by refusing an escort, 
and saying, " Oh, they won't touch us, I am sure. I shall 
fly a white flag on the bonnet of the car, and they will 
let us through all right." This made it quite certain 
that they were in friendly communication with the 
Jangalis, and it only remained to procure proof of 
this to justify us in carrying out the arrest, which we 
did a few days later in circumstances shortly to be 
described. 

General Baratov was still in Kasvin presiding over 
a Committee which was making most praiseworthy 
endeavours to settle the Persian requisition claims, 
without being in possession of the necessary funds 
for the purpose — a somewhat difficult task. 

He had received an invitation from the British authori- 
ties to visit India, at which he was most gratified, and he 
intended proceeding shortly to Baghdad in order to 
avail himself of this courtesy. His position in Persia, as 
a General without an army, was an absurd one, and a 
return to his own country was impossible, as a price 
>had been put on his head by the revolutionaries. I 
had taken a great liking to him, and felt that I should 
miss his genial companionship. He certainly deserves 
all praise for his assiduity in pressing the rather far- 
fetched claims of Russia on the British Government. I 
have never met a more " importunate widow." I had 
frequently to tell him that the only blot in our friendship 
was his horrible little pocket-book in which he kept notes 
of the various points for discussion with me. My heart 
literally sank within me whenever I saw this book pro- 
duced ; I knew I was in for a discussion on at least six 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 207 

points, with half an hour devoted to each, provided my 
time and patience were equal to his demands. 

I must record here the agreement made between 
ourselves and the Russian Road Company to take over 
temporarily all their property and interests in the road 
from Hamadan to Enzeli and from Teheran to Kasvin. 
The road had been constructed by a private Russian 
company, and was worked as a concession under the 
Persian Government. Post-houses were built at con- 
venient intervals, and tollgates at every 30 miles. A 
telegraph and telephone line followed the 380 miles of 
road, the latter having instruments in every toUgate 
house. The acquisition of this property with the tele- 
phone rights was most valuable to us, and the agreement 
was an excellent one from a financial point of view. The 
sum we paid monthly was less than it would have cost 
us to carry out the repairs to the road, and for this sum 
we not only got a certain amount of indispensable repairs, 
but the general control of the whole road, buildings 
and telephones. The company was glad to have the 
money for payment of salaries, but their real gain was 
that by our taking over the road the revolutionaries 
were prevented from " nationalizing " the company, 
which would spell ruin to the shareholders and the working 
staff of engineers. 

On July 26th, just in the middle of the Caucasus- 
Baku fighting which I have described, in which Bicherakov 
was being driven back into the town, the long-expected 
coup d'etat took place at Baku, the Bolshevik Govern- 
ment were thrown out, and replaced by a new body calling 
themselves the Central- Caspian Dictatorship. Shaumian 
and Petrov, the two leaders of the Bolshevik party, deter- 
mined to leave the town with their followers and transfer 
themselves by sea to Astrakhan, which was now the sole 
remaining stronghold of the Bolsheviks on the Caspian 
Sea. They accordingly seized thirteen ships, in which 



208 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

they embarked the greater part of the Red Army, and 
also loaded them up with the entire contents of the arsenal 
and all the war material on which they could lay their 
hands. Had the new Government permitted the depar- 
ture of these ships it would have been impossible to 
continue the defence of Baku another day, but luckily 
the little navy was on their side, and the Dictators rather 
hesitatingly ordered the recall of the ships ; the gun- 
boats pursued, and the whole convoy was brought back 
into harbour and kept at anchor while the usual intermin- 
able discussions took place. The recapture of this convoy 
is the solitary instance in our experience of Baku of 
direct decisive action being immediately decided on and 
carried into effect. The moment the great feat was 
accomplished the new Government were so out of breath 
at the rapidity and success of their action, that they very 
nearly spoilt it all by allowing themselves to be drawn 
into a week's discussion with Shaumian and Petrov that 
might have ended disastrously, had we not appeared on 
the scene and given them the heart to proceed with their 
good work. 

^he new Government had no sooner taken up the 
reins than, according to our pre-arranged plan, they sent 
messengers to us asking for help. Although troops were 
not even yet immediately available, except in the form 
of very small detachments, I decided to accept the in- 
vitation, and dispatched Colonel Stokes with a small 
party of the 1 /4 Hants to announce our impending arrival. 
He reached the town on a very critical date, August 4th, 
on the eve of a determined attack by the Turks. Although 
the townspeople were bitterly disappointed at the arrival 
of only one or two officers and a handful of men, where 
their uncontrolled imaginations had led them to expect 
ship after ship pouring out British soldiers on to the quay, 
yet the mere sight of these fine-looking soldiers inspired 
them to that extent that, when the Turkish attack took 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 309 

place on the following day, every man in the town seized 
his rifle and rushed to reinforce the firing line, with the 
result that the Turks were thrown back in confusion. 
This evidence of a fine spirit on the part of the towns- 
people led us to hope for much later on, but it was the 
solitary instance of such valour, and hopes based on it 
were doomed to bitter disappointment. 

Troops now began to arrive in small detachments 
as motor-cars could be found available to transport them 
to Enzeli, and I sent over Colonel R, Keyworth, of the 
R.F.A., with an improvised staff to command the fighting 
troops in Baku. 

On August 4th I moved my Head Quarters from Kasvin 
to Kazian, taking up my residence as before in the Fishery 
Depot. On our way down we stopped the night as usual 
at the little post-house in Menjil, where we met a very 
mournful trio coming up from Enzeli to Kasvin in custody. 
These were no others than Cheliapin, Lazarev and 
Babookh. They asked to see me, and I at once went to 
have a talk with them and find out what it was aU about. 
According to their own account it was all a silly mistake ; 
I informed them that if that were so they would at once 
be released with apologies when their case had been 
inquired into. According to the account of the officer 
in charge of them they were accused of complicity with 
the Jangalis, and we had documentary evidence of their 
guilt in the shape of a letter from Babookh to Kuchik 
Khan congratulating him on his recent efforts to destroy 
the British detachment at Resht, and urging him to renew 
his efforts, while promising all support in his future 
attempts. This letter was actually handed to me on 
my arrival at Kazian, and left no doubt whatsoever as 
to their guilt. 

As soon as he had ascertained the undounted genuine- 
ness of this letter. Major Browne had decided to seize 
,the opportunity of getting rid of the Enzeli Committee, 

15 



210 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

who had now become an anachronism. The three 
conspirators were arrested (on a charge of having dealings 
with our enemies) at the hour of their afternoon siesta, 
and as soon as they had had time to arrange their gar- 
ments and put their belongings together they were offered 
seats in a Ford car and started on the road to Kasvin. 

They were apparently quite unlamented, their sudden 
disappearance caused no stir in the town, and even their 
own followers evinced no interest in their arrest and 
deportation. Every one seemed to be glad to be rid of 
them, and Kazian heaved a deep sigh of relief, which 
shows how sadly one's best efforts often fail to secure 
genuine appreciation. Kazian port is a Russian con- 
cession forming part of the road concession, and the 
Fisheries were another concession. Both of these 
bodies were on the point of being " nationalized " by 
Cheliapin and Company, and our prompt action just 
saved them from this dismal fate. 

The first thing to do at Kazian was to secure per- 
manently sufficient shipping to enable me to withdraw 
the troops from Baku in case of necessity. For this pur- 
pose I selected a fine vessel of over a thousand tons, 
with the ominous name of the President Krilger, while 
Stokes in Baku managed to secure two good ships, the 
Kursk, and the Abo. These ships we managed to hold 
until the fatal day when their services were required. 
I need not enter into details as to how we secured three 
of the best ships on the Caspian ; we should never have 
been allowed to retain them had the Centro- Caspian 
Dictatorate suspected our intentions as to their ultimate 
use. As a matter of fact, every now and then a 
member of the Government did appear to smell a rat, 
and several attempts were made to persuade us to give 
them up, but we always succeeded in holding on to them. 

I lay particular stress on this acquisition of the ships 
because it is a point on which there has been the most 



I 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 211 

unaccountable misunderstanding. I read, for instance, 
in the newspapers at the time of our evacuation from 
Baku a surmise to the effect that the Russians must 
have relented and kindly given us ships at the last 
moment, whereas it will be seen in the last chapter of 
this book that the exact contrary was the case. 

The Kriiger was a fine ship and as fast as anything 
on the Caspian, with the exception of the gunboats, and 
she had accommodation sufficient for my staff, the clerks, 
and the office, as well as about 300 men normally ; at a 
pinch she could carry 800 men by utilizing all deck space. 
We rigged up a pack wireless set which had sufficient 
range to keep me in touch when at sea with either Baku 
or Enzeli, in both of which ports the Russians had very 
powerful wireless installations. 

Having cleared the atmosphere by the removal of 
the obstructive Committee, our next step was to acquire 
control of the port. In each successive step of these 
transactions I was urged to use military force ; but realizing 
that that would be a fatal error, I managed to secure 
all that we required by means of peaceful negotiations. 

The key to the Caspian problem was the little fleet, 
who were now acting loyally with us and with the new 
Government. At the same time it was obvious that they 
had their suspicions of " perfide Albion,'* and any overt 
act of aggression on our part, such as the arrest of the 
Committee on grounds other than those on which we had 
fortunately been able to act, or the acquisition of the 
port by a display of armed force, would have been too 
flagrant a display of the " mailed fist " which we were 
not strong enough to live up to, and which would at once 
have turned the feelings of the fleet and of the Baku 
people against us. Moreover, although we had a very 
efficient staff from the Royal Navy, with some 160 naval 
ratings, we could never have run the port otherwise than 
by being on friendly terms with the local authorities and 



212 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

staff. For instance, the keeping open of the harbour is 
entirely dependent on the efforts of a single dredger. 
If the harbour staff were hostilely inclined to us, there 
is no doubt that something would have happened to that 
dredger, and the harbour would have been useless. 

I therefore dealt with the matter of the port on a 
purely business basis. The income had sunk to almost 
nothing owing to the fact that everything (except, so far, 
the port itself) had been " nationalized." All shipping 
on the Caspian had been " nationalized," and conse- 
quently paid no dues. This put the port authorities in 
a very difficult situation. We drew up a very satisfactory 
agreement, under the guidance of Commodore Norris, 
by which we guaranteed all salaries and port expenses, 
and claimed in return any sources of income. 

This agreement was never ratified by the Centro- 
Caspian Government, and the documents connected with 
it continued to pass to and fro between them and us 
up to the time of the fall of Baku ; but we had got to 
understand revolutionary procedure, and regarded this 
delay in ratification as quite unimportant. Revolution- 
aries revel in writing and talking, all crises are met by 
passing resolutions, or haranguing uninterested crowds, 
so it was obvious that if we neither talked nor wrote, 
but acted, we should probably get all we wanted. Acting 
on these lines, we proceeded to put the agreement into 
force on the day the port authorities signified their assent. 
We installed an embarkation commandant, and in a few 
days Enzeli was to all intents and purposes an English 
port, and has since remained so. 

By this I must not be understood to mean that the 
British Government had any desire at all to acquire any 
sort of permanent rights in this neighbourhood, either 
with reference to the port or anything else ; the agree- 
ment was to last only for the duration of hostilities. 

We were not allowed to imagine that our reception 



I 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 213 

in Baku would be entirely friendly. This extract from 
one of the Baku newspapers will prove interesting as 
showing the nature of the propaganda that was being 
worked against us at this time. The mere title of the 
paper is another indication of the lack of brevity that 
characterizes revolutionaries. 

" The News of the Council of Workmen, Red Army, 
Sailors, and Peasant Deputies of the Baku 
Area. 

" Comrades, workmen, sailors, Red Army, and all 
citizens of Baku ! The agents of the English Im- 
perialists are carrying on counter-revolutionary work ; 
they sow discord among you, they intend to put up the 
sailors against the workmen^ the workmen against the 
revolutionary Government. 

" We have news that the English Capitalists have con- 
cluded a close agreement with our local counter-revolu- 
tionaries. They wish to destroy our power and put up 
in its place the power of the English and the Bourgeois. 

" The Bourgeois and their despicable dependents are 
in favour of the English. The Workmen and Sailors are 
in favour of the Russian Revolution. 

" The Bourgeois and their dependents are in favour of 
cutting adrift from Russia. The Workmen and Sailors 
are in favour of the unity of the Russian Socialist Federalist 
Republic. 

" The Bourgeois, pledged to the English, bartered 
souls, pitiful cowards, and all counter-revolutionaries, 
are in favour of cutting adrift from Russia, for English 
might, for a new war with Germany. They are against 
the independence of Russia ! 

" Away with the English Imperialists I 
Away with their paid agents ! 
Away with the Bourgeois Counter-revolutionaries ! 



214 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Hurrah for the Peoples Committees ! 

Hurrah for independent Russia ! 

Hurrah for Russian Social Revolution ! 

What can the English give you ? Nothing ! 

What can they take from you ? Everything ! 

Away with the English Imperialists ! 

All to the front ! to arms ! All to the saving of Baku ! " 

The days at Kazian were very busy, getting in the 
small detachments of the 39th Brigade and embarking 
them for Baku, arranging for supplies for incoming troops, 
arrangements for their accommodation, councils of debate 
with emissaries from Baku, negotiations for peace with 
Kuchik Khan and settling matters connected with the 
working of the port under our control. 

Among the visitors from Baku was Dr. Araratiantz, 
a representative of the Baku Armenian National Council. 
This official expressed to me the disappointment of the 
Baku people at the small number of British troops arriving 
in the town in response to their appeal for help. They 
had expected much larger reinforcements, and he tried 
to tie me down to definite promises of definite numbers, 
which I refused to give. In order that his mind should 
be made quite sure on this important subject, and also 
in order to prevent him from saying later that we had 
not acted up to our obligations, I put the gist of our 
conversation into a letter, the contents of which I begged 
him to communicate to the Baku people. The letter was 
as follows : 

*' Kazian, 

*' August 7, 1918. 

** Dear Dr. Araratiantz, 

" In order that there may be no doubt on the 
subject, I desire to put in writing my views on the questions 
you put before me yesterday evening. 

*' The three questions dealt with were — 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 215 

(1) The defence of Baku. 

(2) The position of the Armenians in Erivan. 

(3) The position of the Armenians in Julfa. 

" As regards (1) the following is my reply : 

" The defence of Baku appears to me to be quite 
feasible, and its capture by the enemy forces extremely 
unlikely, provided that the inhabitants of Baku are heart 
and soul with us in our determinatioJi to defeat the enemy. 
It is not sufficient that the town should merely be held, 
but the defence can only be successful when the Baku 
troops can issue from the town and defeat the enemy on 
the field of battle. This particularly affects the Armenians, 
who form a great proportion of the fighting strength. 
The forces suffer at present from lack of organization, 
owing to which much of their gallantry in fighting is 
displayed in vain. I shall shortly have sufficient officers 
to remedy this defect. 

'' The entire defence of the town cannot be undertaken 
solely by the British who, as you know, have to maintain 
large armies on several different fronts, and the distance 
from Baghdad to Baku, with no railway, makes the 
maintenance of our troops a matter of some difficulty. 

" I can assure you, however, that every available man 
will be sent to Baku as soon as possible. If with the help 
of some British troops your comrades are ready to under- 
take the defence of the town, victory is assured. But 
on the other hand, if your men are undecided and half 
hearted, it would be better for you to say at once that 
you do not intend to fight to the end, and you would be 
well advised to make what terms you can with the enemy, 
after first giving me time to withdraw my men. 

" As regards (2), it is a pity that the splendid fighting 
material available at Erivan cannot at present be utilized 
by the Allies. I can hold out no hopes of any assistance 
in their direction in the immediate future. 



^' 



216 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" The same applies to (3), though in this case the 
Armenians are much nearer to a possible line of Allied 
ofEensive. 

" I write thus clearly in order that I may not later 
be accused of holding out false hopes which in the end 
I failed to fulfil. 

" There can be no doubt whatsoever of the eventual 
victory of the Allies and the restoration of the Armenian 
people, and this alone can give you hope in this dark 
hour of despair. 

" Any change in our policy that may affect the situation 
in the regions concerned I will duly notify to you." 

As the events described in this chapter have been 
numerous and varied, it will be as well to sum up briefly 
the achievements of the month. 

We commenced with the visit to Baghdad to put 
everything in train for the next move, when our connec- 
tion with Head Quarters might be entirely severed. It 
was pretty certain that when the Turks saw us arriving 
in Baku they would strike the long-threatened blow from 
Tabriz on our Persian lines of communication, and it 
would be necessary to be prepared to meet this. 

We next noted the course of Bicherakov's operations 
on the Tiflis railway, in which we lost one of our armoured 
cars. 

Then came the move of the 39th Brigade by motor- 
lorry from Baghdad. Resht was taken by the Jangalis 
and retaken by us, and peace negotiations were entered 
into with Kuchik Khan. 

An important agreement was entered into with the 
Russian Road Company by which we entirely took over 
the road with its personnel. A similar agreement was 
entered into with the Kazian port authorities. The 
Bolshevik Government was thrown out in Baku and its 
place taken by the Centro-Caspia which demanded our 



IN TOUCH WITH BAKU 217 

aid, and our first troops were sent to Baku in compliance 
with this demand. We had arrested and deported the 
Enzeli Bolshevik Committee, and secured sufficient ship- 
ping to enable us to carry out an evacuation from Baku 
if necessary. A busy month ! 



CHAPTER XIII 
WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 

HEAD QUARTERS were transferred on board the 
Kriiger on August 10th, and we hauled down the 
Red flag of the revolution, substituting the orthodox 
Russian flag. We had no sooner done this than we received 
a deputation from the local Committee asking as usual 
for explanations and wanting to know if we were " counter- 
revolutionary." I was beginning to get sick of the 
word and replied that 1 was not, but that also 1 was not 
a revolutionary and therefore absolutely objected to 
fljdng the Red flag. We effected a compromise permit- 
ting us to continue flying the Russian flag, but only on 
condition that it was upside-down. This I agreed to 
cheerfully, and we sailed the Caspian Sea thereafter 
under the Serbian flag, the revolutionaries not being 
aware of the fact that the Russian flag upside-down 
constitutes the flag of Serbia. 

The Kriiger proved to be a very comfortable ship, 
and we soon got on good terms with the crew. The saloon 
was just large enough to hold us all at meal times with 
room for one or two ofl&cial guests. The only adorn- 
ment consisted of a life-size portrait of Oom Paul, with 
his inevitable top-hat surmounting his remarkable features. 
Many of my officers were South Africans who wore the 
two medals for 1899-1902, and it was amusing to observe 
their startled expressions when they came into the saloon 

218 



WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 219 

to report and were confronted with this striking 
portrait. 

The lightning sears the night landscape on the 
eyeball. Here is a flash in the blackness through which 
we were stumbling. 

A British General on the Caspian, the only sea un- 
ploughed before by British keels, on board a ship named 
after a South African Dutch president and whilom enemy, 
sailing from a Persian port, under the Serbian flag, to 
relieve from the Turks a body of Armenians in a revolu- 
tionary Russian town. 

Let the reader pick his way through that delirious 
tangle, and envy us our task who will ! 

The Captain was a first-rate man, a good seaman 
and a brave fellow, and the other oflicers seemed a fairly 
good lot. It took us some little time to understand the 
system of command on board a revolutionary ship. The 
arrangement was that all movements, and the general 
affairs of the ship, were run by the ship's committee, of 
which the Captain was an ex-officio member. In theory 
this was absurd ; in practice we found that the crew 
were very amenable, and after we had weeded out one 
or two undesirables, we seldom had any trouble. They 
never actually refused to carry out any order given them 
through the Captain, though there were occasions when 
they carried out movements without consulting him. 
They had a great idea of the value of their own lives, 
and once or twice at Baku, when the ship was being shelled 
and I happened not to be on board, they quietly put to 
sea till they were out of range, returning when all was 
quiet. 

The first undesirable we had to get rid of was a 
drunkard. This unfortunate specimen was addicted to 
a vile Caucasian drink with the suggestive name of " Gee- 
gee " — a kind of arrack. My attention was first called 
to him by his peculiar performances on the wharf when 



220 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

under its influence. He had not altogether the appear- 
ance of being drunk, but behaved rather more as a mad- 
man. When I saw him he was dancing a sort of wild 
hornpipe, at the conclusion of which he drew a long knife 
and proceeded to run amok, leaping on to the ship and 
scattering the crew right and left. At last he vented 
his fury on the only thing that was unable to get out 
of the way, which was a water-melon, plunging his knife 
into it until the unfortunate fruit was bleeding from every 
pore. He then sat down on the deck and quietly allowed 
himself to be arrested. One of the crew stated that he 
was often like that, that he never stabbed or wanted to 
stab anybody. He invariably contented himself with a 
water-melon or something similar, and always waited 
to be arrested as soon as his fury had spent itself. 
It also appears that this extraordinary behaviour is 
common to all the devotees of " Gee-gee." 

Before leaving Enzeli I was anxious if possible to 
bring our negotiations with Kuchik Khan to a close, and 
secure the release of Captain Noel, who had several times 
been reported dead, but whom we now knew to be alive. 
But in the end I had to sail without having actually 
concluded the peace. 

In the meantime I received a deputation from Len- 
koran, a strip of the coast on the south-west of the Caspian 
where the Russian frontier runs southward from Baku 
as far as the port of Astara. The province is bounded 
on the west by the high mountains which are a continua- 
tion of the Elburz range, and on the north, where it 
includes the Mughan Steppe, by the River Aras. The 
original inhabitants are Mahomedans of mixed Persian 
and Tartar origin, but the country has, during the last 
half century, been colonized by the Russians, who now 
occupy all the settlements on the fertile low-lying 
lands bordering the sea, while the original inhabitants, 
who are not very friendly to the colonists, are rele- 




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WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 221 

gated to the mountain tracts. The colonists are of pure 
Russian descent and have all passed through their 
period of military service. They possess a fairly good 
armament, including several field guns, and they claim 
to be able to turn out 5,000 fighting men. 

The deputation brought letters from a Russian officer 
who had been selected by the residents of Lenkoran to 
guide them in military affairs. Since the revolution 
the colony had been compelled to run on the lines of 
inevitable " committees," but the people were apparently 
quite untouched by the real spirit of the revolution, 
and paid little heed to the committees, while relying 
solely on their military commander as a sort of autocratic 
ruler. 

The colony is rich and possessed large supplies of grain, 
which they were anxious to exchange for cotton fabrics 
and ammunition. They desired to work with us in any 
scheme of opposition to the Turks, and might be very 
helpful to us in Baku, the colony lying on the right flank 
of the lines of communication of the Caucasus-Islam 
army. They brought a cargo of flour and other commo- 
dities as a present to the force, and desired to enter into 
some permanent agreement with us, their first demand 
being for instructors for their troops. They also 
placed the services of two small steamers at our 
disposal. 

In response to this appeal I sent a small party of officers 
and N.C.O.'s to visit Lenkoran and make themselves 
acquainted with the situation there. With this party I 
sent two Russian officers, who were to remain in Lenkoran, 
Captains Stepanov and Gurland, the former a distin- 
guished artillery officer who had seen much service in the 
early stages of the present war, and the latter a specialist 
in matters of supply. It was very necessary to make the 
most of these friendly advances ; the troops of the colony 
might be useful to us tactically, and the supplies were 



222 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

very important, in view of the fact that Baku was on 
the verge of starvation. 

On August 15th I received a letter from Colonel 
Key worth at Baku, of which the following is an extract : 

*' You have already received maps showing the present 
line of defence. It mostly lies along the top of a stony 
cliff, except on the extreme left and on the right. Rifle 
pits are badly sited, so that the occupants can only shoot 
into the air. Even if they were sited on the extreme 
edge, the fire would be a very plunging one, and the 
position is equally unsuitable for machine-gun fire. 

" The front is not wired ; there are no communication 
trenches. The total length of the present front is 21,000 
yards. Rifles available (exclusive of our own men) 
are some 6,000, organized into twenty-two battalions, 
which vary in strength between 150 and 500 men. 

" I am trying to get the Commander-in-Chief here to 
dig trenches and wire the front, and they have started 
this morning after much consultation with our machine- 
gun officers. The Commander-in-Chief stated yesterday 
that he had enough wire to cover the whole front. They 
now seem to think they have no wire at all. It is difficult 
to find out what stores they have ; they do not know them- 
selves. The North Staffords are occupying the extreme 
left flank and also have about 100 men near the centre 
of the line, where one of the local battalions had to be 
withdrawn (or rather withdrew themselves and melted 
away). 

" From our present front line to the enemy is some 
2,000 to 3,000 yards. The only possible position for siting 
trenches is either withdrawn from the crest or at th foot 
of the cliffs ; both have a good field of fire. I prefer the 
latter, as the moral effect of retiring to the former would 
not be good. If the former were occupied, machine- 
guns would have to be placed half-way down the cliff. 



WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 228 

The top of the cliff itself is of course a shell trap and the 
exact edge easily ranged on. So far, wiring has started 
only on the left flank, where these conditions do not 
prevail, and to-morrow I am deciding definitely which 
line to occupy. 

** The whole position is absurdly close to the town, 
and enemy batteries could at any time, with aeroplane 
observation, bombard the harbour and destroy shipping, 
especially if they bring up heavy guns. Before Baku 
can be safely held an advance must be made and a position 
farther west occupied, and preferably one some 15,000 
to 20,000 yards west of the town. This would render 
the docks and shipping safe from shell-fire. At present 
we cannot advance, weak as the enemy is. We must 
first reorganize and hold on where we are. 

" Organization of local material for war purposes is also 
badly needed. They are short of nearly all stores and 
material. Yet I fancy there is plenty in the town and 
it only needs requisitioning. Most of the population of 
the town, both friendly and otherwise, are armed, and 
there are a quantity of rifles amongst them, but the 
Government at present feel themselves too weak to take 
any action. When the Petrov question is settled we 
may be able to go ahead and disarm the whole lot. 

" They are gradually getting a move on, but it takes 
time. The battalions have not yet been reorganized, 
there are practically no ofliicers, and men return to the 
town when they like. There is no supervision over 
ammunition, and much is wasted. Sanitation is bad. 
When Colonel Warden and some other officers arrive 
we can get to work better. 

" The one idea of the Baku army is to retire and rest 
from those parts of the front occupied by us. Hence 
100 men of the North Staff ords now occupy a front of 
some 4,000 yards, and their reserve (Baku army) is too 
far away to be of any use to them — altogether a some- 



224 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

what impossible situation. Time is precious ; yet they 
dawdle. Of course I know this must be so at first. Politi- 
cal discussions and meetings and speeches occupy far too 
much valuable time. We have tried our best to make 
friends of Petrov, but so far he refuses to meet us. Yester- 
day the Central Committee delivered an ultimatum to 
him. He replied that he could not possibly fight in 
alliance with English Imperialism against German Im- 
perialism, and that he would leave the town, but insisted 
on being allowed to take sufficient ammunition to enable 
his force to maintain its military efficiency, as he had a 
possibly enemy country to move through before reaching 
Moscow. In the meantime he has locked up all his am- 
munition and guns in an arsenal and has sentries posted 
everywhere. I told the Central Committee to get a definite 
statement from Petrov of what he wishes to take away 
and what he will leave behind. There are the wildest 
rumours of what he possesses. Some say 500 guns and 
thousands of rounds of ammunition. Others say five 
guns with hardly any ammunition. The question should 
be settled to-day, but you know what these people are — 
all talk and no action. I have at last got them to agree 
on a definite line of defence, which runs roughly as shown 
on enclosed map. The part coloured green has been up 
to now, and still is, entirely open and not even patrolled, 
so that Turks have got round into the Tartar villages 
to our rear which are now full of armed men and machine- 
guns, and it is this we are trying to clear up now. But 
these infernal politics hinder one at every turn. Rus- 
sians will not work with Armenians ; Russian officers 
are said to be with the Turkish troops fighting against 
us, and therefore Russian officers here decline to go to 
the front. Most of all this is only talk, but the Armenian 
seems anxious to work with the Russian if only the 
Russian will let him. 

"We are now living in this hotel, where the food 



WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 225 

alone costs £2 10s. a day per head. The food question is 
becoming acute. It seems Baku has imported nothing 
for two months and that they have only a week's supply 
left. The workers in the oilfields are being starved ; 
the price of food augments daily. Lenkoran is giving 
us nothing at present, as the small railway is not com- 
pleted, and they lack means of transport, which of course 
you know. Crawford, now on the Food Control board, is, 
however, getting a move on, and they are beginning to 
think, and to-morrow I hope they will begin to act. It 
is a great pity Petrov will not come in with us, but we 
have done our best, short of begging on our knees. 

'' Another difficult problem here is the transport ques- 
tion. Cars cannot go everywhere and animals cannot very 
well be fed in any numbers ; water also has to be carried 
a long way. The only solution seems to be man-handling 
from the cars to the front line at night. The heat here 
is intense and one drips all day and night, making any 
energetic supervision of this very long front impossible 
without cars ; and even with cars a very large amount 
of walking has to be done. The army here can give us 
no cars, instead they expect us to supply them. They 
either cannot or will not understand the difficulties we 
have, and insist on looking on us as universal providers." 

This letter brought the situation very clearly before 
us, and it was evident that our departure for Baku could 
no longer be delayed, in spite of the fact that we had not 
yet actually signed the peace treaty with Kuchik Khan. 
Military advisers from Baku were also anxious that I 
should still further delay my departure ; they had an 
absurd idea that it would be better for me to wait until 
we had a large body of troops to transport to Baku ; 
when these were ready I should cross over with them 
and make an imposing entry into the town. They 
thought that if the British General arrived in the town 

16 



226 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

with only a handful of troops, the effect of the dis- 
appointment would be so exasperating to the towns- 
people as to take all the heart out of them. 

But, on the other hand, as I was aware that 
I should never have a large body of troops with 
which to make this imposing entry, I thought it 
best that the people should realize as soon as possible 
the exact limits of our assistance and get over their 
disappointment as best they might. Moreover, it 
seemed to be that there was something peculiar in the 
reiteration of their remonstrances at my departure. 
Accordingly on August 16th the President Kriiger left 
Enzeli, and arrived at Baku on the afternoon of 
August 17th (the run is about eighteen hours). As 
we neared the harbour we caught our first glimpse 
of an oilfield, passing the Bibi Eibat wells, which come 
down to the water's edge 2 miles south of the main 
town. The borings are very close together, and each 
well is worked by machinery that requires the use of a 
derrick. A cluster of 1,000 wells means therefore 1,000 
derricks. These are built of wood with asbestos and tin 
sheeting to minimize the risk of fire, and in the distance 
the fields look like ghostly forests of dried-up trees. Our 
course lay midway between the Bibi Eibat fields on the 
west, and Narghin island on the east. Narghin island 
was, up to the time of the revolution, the main war- 
prisoners' camp in this area, and it was chiefly from here 
that the Austrian prisoners of war were released who 
now swell the ranks of the Bolshevik army in Trans-Caspia. 
Under the shelter of this island lay the thirteen ships 
of Shaumian's and Petrov's fleet, guarded by two small 
gunboats. 

The view of Baku from the sea is most imposing, 
the buildings near to the sea-front being in the most 
florid European style, with a distinct leaning towards 
German artistic notions. In the centre of the town 



II 




WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 227 

rises the dome of the Russian Cathedral surmounted 
with a gold ball and cross. The town, as may be seen 
from the map, lies in a crater-like cup, the ground on the 
west and north rising gradually for about 2 miles till it 
reaches the line of cliffs, whence it falls precipitously to 
the bottom of the desert valley by which the railway 
from Tiflis enters Baku. The population is approxi- 
mately 300,000, chiefly Armenians, Tartars and Russians : 
there are also a few Georgians and Greeks, and smaller 
colonies of British, French, Americans and others. The 
country is entirely barren, except for avenues of trees 
grown in the town with the aid of the new water supply, 
and for the surrounding villages, which are really oases in 
the midst of sandy deserts and partly dried-up salt lakes. 

The chief oilfields are at Binagadi, Balakhani and 
Bibi Eibat. The town as marked in the map shows 
only the central portion, but the dwellings are really 
continuous for 9 miles from Bibi Eibat in the south to 
the White Town in the east. Black Town is the centre of 
the oil refineries and is a mass of oil and petrol reservoirs, 
between which are crowded the workmen's dwellings. 
There are 2 miles of wharves on the sea-front opposite 
the control town, and there are, as a rule, not less than 
sixty steamers in the harbour. The streets are paved 
in the usual Russian style with cobbles, which renders 
them very durable but unpleasant to ride or drive over. 
Horse trams run in the main streets, but these had been 
suspended before our arrival, owing to a shortage in the 
supply of horses and the excessive cost of forage. 

The Krilger was berthed at the most western wharf 
belonging to the Caucasus-Mercury Steam Shipping 
Company, opposite the centre of the business part of the 
town. Alongside of us lay the Kursk and Abo, which I 
have before mentioned as having been secured with a 
view to a possible evacuation. Guards were kept on all 
three steamers with orders to resist any attempt at inter- 



228 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

ference, and the three ships were kept together through- 
out the whole of our time in the port. As soon as we 
were tied up Colonel Keyworth came on board to report ; 
all was going well so far, and the Turks were showing 
no great sign of activity. I also received a message from 
the Dictators (there were five of them), asking me when 
it would be convenient to me to receive them. The 
remainder of the afternoon was spent in inspecting the 
excellent building we had secured as a hospital, and the 
officers and men's billets. Every available officer and 
man was already in the front-line trenches, but there 
remained in the town the supply and transport staff, 
the sick and a small detachment to furnish necessary 
guards. 
'^ Colonel Keyworth had selected the enormous empty 
Hotel d'Europe as his Head Quarters, and a certain 
number of billets were engaged in the Hotel Metropole. 
Both of these buildings and their appointments were 
most luxurious, gilt furniture and crimson plush curtains 
offending the eye at every turn. But the luxury ceased 
at this point. It was not possible to be luxurious in the 
matter of food, because there were only the merest neces- 
r--saries to be got. I noticed from the bill of fare at the 
Metropole that an ordinary dinner of soup, fish, joint 
and water-melon, with bread inclusive, cost one hundred 
roubles — that is at pre-war rates of exchange £10, at 
present rates of exchange about £2 — a large price 
for a meal and a poor one at that. I will refer to 
the question of prices later. In the case of the Hotel 
d'Europe an arrangement had been made for an inclusive 
daily rate which was not much more than twice the amount 
of the allowance that officers received to feed themselves 
on. On board the Kriiger I was able to make cheaper 
arrangements with the caterer, to whom we paid eighty- 
two roubles a day and supplied our own bread, which 
brought the daily rate just under £2. 



WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 229 

On the next day, August 18th, at daybreak I set 
out with Colonels Duncan and Hoskyn to inspect the 
front line. Beginning on the left, where the high ground 
runs down in a series of rocky spurs to the sea one mile 
west of Bibi Eibat, the position was a good one, with a 
fair field of fire and with a naturally guarded flank. The 
North Staffords had made every use of the folds in the 
ground and their trenches were already sufficiently deep 
to afford a certain amount of cover from artillery fire. 
On their right was an Armenian battalion who, inspired 
by their activity, had also made some efforts at entrench- 
ing. From here the position followed the line of the cliffs 
due north for about 7 miles from the sea, where they 
curve round to the west ; from this point the line continu- 
ing north came gradually down on to the level ground, 
crossing the railway about 1 mile west of Baladjari 
junction, and continuing thence to the Mud Volcano, 
at which point (12 miles from the left) it turned back 
east for another 2 miles to Binagadi hill. This was of 
course the weakest point in the whole line which, instead 
of turning back here, should have continued due north 
to the sea, thus giving a total length of about 19 miles 
with both flanks resting on the sea. The right portion 
of this line between the Mud Volcano and the northern 
coast required very few men for its defence, as the Masazir 
salt lake, an impassable obstacle, occupied one-half of 
the distance. This gap on the right had been originally 
caused by the withdrawal of Bicherakov's detachment, 
and the local military authorities attributed all the blame 
to him ; but as they had had three weeks in which to 
remedy the defect and had done nothing, the fault now 
evidently lay with them alone. 

Various efforts were now being made to fill this gap, 
but the Turks in the meantime had got well round this 
flank, and all the villages from north to east of the 
town (which are nearly owned by Tartars) were full of 



230 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

small Turkish detachments and local Tartar levies. The 
main Turkish position ran on a slightly higher ground 
on the opposite side of the railway valley roughly parallel 
to our line, and 3,000 to 4,000 yards distant. The cliff 
portion of our line was almost impregnable and could be 
held by very few reliable troops, but the local troops were 
not reliable and our small numbers could not be cut up 
into an indefinite number of weak detachments. We 
held therefore the left with the North Staffords, with a 
detachment of theirs at " Wolf's Gap," 3 J miles from the 
sea, and another at the Mud Volcano, which was the 
obvious danger point of the line. The Mud Volcano 
detachment was strongly supported by two complete 
battalions of local troops in Baladjari railway station, 
which was all we could do to render the position reasonably 
safe. As a matter of fact, when trouble came those 
two battalions were not at Baladjari station, and no 
support was consequently available. 

On the arrival of the War wicks and the Worcesters 
both of these battalions were sent up to strengthen this 
portion of the line. These general dispositions were not 
materially changed throughout the fighting that ensued. 
The actual command of the troops in the field devolved 
on Colonel Key worth and that of the Infantry Brigade 
on Colonel Faviell. With so small a number of troops 
available it was not possible to retain anything in the 
shape of a general reserve from our own men ; this was 
supplied by the town troops, but was never at hand when 
required. Supports and lodal reserves were all we could 
manage from our small detachments, and they were 
able on many occasions to save the situation. The actual 
number of British troops in the position was never more 
than 900. 

This general description will enable the reader to 
form some idea of the town, the country and the position. 
As regards the town the greater portion is built in the 



WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 231 

ordinary continental style. The quays in the neighbour-' 
hood of our wharf are beautifully planted with trees 
and brilliantly lit by electric light at night, when all the 
people of the town come down to promenade on the 
boulevards at the water's edge. It must be remembered 
that the country itself is quite barren ; on the west, 
between us and the Turks, there is not a sign of a single 
tree, or a blade of grass, and every movement of the troops 
by daylight can be clearly seen by the opposing sides. 
As regards the steep cliffs I have mentioned, they are 
about 500 feet in height and quite precipitous, but a good 
road leads up the face of them from the enemy's side, 
debouching on to the upper plain at a point known as the 
Wolf's Gap : it was here that we had our centre detach- 
ment of the North Stafford Regiment. 

The local troops, who were for the most part Armen- 
ians, dug very little in the way of trenches, and when 
urged to do so replied, " Why should we dig ourselves in ? 
We do not want to dig ; cowards do that ; we want to 
fight ! " They liked to line up in a row just behind the 
edge of the steep cliff and fire off their rifles at the sky ; 
they frequently did this when there was no sign of a Turkish 
attack and when the nearest Turk would be behind cover 
about 3,000 yards away. 

Although we were in full view of the enemy's lines 
throughout the tour of inspection, the Turks never fired 
a single shot at my party on this day, which shows 
that they had more sensible ideas on the subject of 
controlling ammunition expenditure than our local 
troops had. 

Returning to town I met the Dictators by appoint- 
ment and spent much time in discussing the situation 
with them. They expressed to me their deep disappoint- 
ment at the small number of troops we had sent, to which 
I replied that I had stated from the first that I could 
not pledge myself to numbers. I also called on the 



332 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Commander-in-Chief, General Dukuchaiev, his Chief of 
the Staff, Colonel Avetisov (Armenian), and his Adjutant- 
General, Colonel von der Fless. I invited them to a 
state banquet on board the Kriiger, where we exchanged 
many polite speeches and discussed the various problems 
connected with the defence of Baku. General Dukuchaiev 
was not a product of the revolution, but a real Russian 
General who had originally been with the troops fighting 
in the neighbourhood of Trebizond. He was an exception- 
ally refined and pleasant gentleman to deal with, but 
his character was not suited to the position of Commander- 
in-Chief of a revolutionary army, for which it may be 
admitted the qualifications are rare. Only a strong 
personality could exercise effective command over 
troops without discipline and who were not liable to 
any laws, regulations or punishments. 

His Chief of the General Staff, Colonel Avetisov, was 
also a regular officer of the old Russian Army, and a good 
type of the Armenian soldier. He possessed considerable 
individuality and was quite fearless in his speech towards 
the revolutionaries ; but he was ill, and I think his work 
suffered on this account. He eventually went over to 
help the people in Lenkoran, and his place was taken by 
Colonel Stokes. 

Colonel von der Fless was also a Russian regular 
officer, young for his rank, and he was one of the very 
few people we met in Baku who knew what a day's work 
meant. 

On the following day, August 19th, I continued my 
inspection of the front, and later in the day met the ten 
members of the Armenian National Council, among whom 
were some remarkable men of considerable ability. I 
also paid my respects to the War Minister, General Bog- 
ratuni (an Armenian), who was still an invalid, suffering 
from the after-effects of amputation of his left leg, and I 
was favourably impressed by him. There were endless 




c: 




< 

ot- 

w 
a: 



WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 233 

ojB&cial calls to be paid or returned, the details of which 
I need not record. 

The five Dictators were naturally the most interesting 
of our acquaintances ; they were intelligent and zealous, 
and of the average age of thirty years. The three workers 
were Lemlin, a former naval officer, Yarmakov, also a 
naval officer, and Sadovsky, a man of the people. Of 
these three Lemlin was the most attractive, Sadovsky 
the most capable, and Yarmakov the strongest character. 
The idea of five Dictators seemed to me absurd, and I 
suggested their choosing one of their number as a single! 
Dictator, but all five unanimously declared they were not 
good enough to run things single-handed. As a matter 
of fact Yarmakov was a strong enough man, but he was 
unbalanced and headstrong and quite unfit to steer the 
ship of state. Throughout our stay in Baku he had his 
suspicions of our intentions and thwarted us at every 
turn. 

Commodore Norris was naturally impatient to get 
to work with the arming of merchant steamers, but it 
was a very delicate matter to handle. I begged for 
six ships to begin on, and gave the following reasons 
for requiring them : 

1. The Baku fleet had big guns, but no means of 
replenishing their scanty supply of ammunition. When 
they came to the end of their supply the guns and ships 
would be useless. 

2. Even while the Russian ammunition lasted our 
ships would be a great addition of strength. The com- 
bined fleets could operate against the railway line, which 
ran close to the coast south of Baku and which the Turks 
were using to bring up ammunition and supplies. 

3. With my constant movements of troops between 
Enzeli and Baku it was not safe to run the risk of a 
Bolshevik ship from Astrakhan attacking one of my 



234 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

transports. I therefore required my own armed ships for 
protection. 

The above were the principal arguments in favour 
of my proposal, though there were others. 

The navy and the Dictators were dead against the pro- 
posal from the very first, and it was only with the greatest 
difficulty that we eventually secured two ships, the Ventur 
and the Ignati. Their armament was not completed 
when we were compelled to evacuate Baku, but these 
ships and others that came away with us were eventually 
armed, and have since taken part in encounters with 
Bolshevik ships. 

The Baku fleet felt that once we possessed armed 
ships their importance would sink to zero, and they 
naturally put up a very strong opposition to the proposal. 
And as the fleet controlled the Government it may be 
realized that we had considerable difficulty in finally 
squeezing a very reluctant consent out of the latter. 
The Caspian sailors admired our bluejackets extremely, 
but they did not want to see them entering into com- 
petition with the Caspian Navy for the ruling of the sea. 

The replies of the Dictators to my arguments were : 

1. It would be better to let them have our guns and 
mount them on their gunboats, and so save us all the 
trouble. 

2. The question of our armed ships aiding the existing 
fleet in its general duties was evaded. 

3. They would be glad to convoy our transports for 
us (though they had no ships to spare for this purpose). 

The whole opposition was of course headed by Yar- 
makov, who never gave in, but remained in a dissentient 
minority of one, even when permission was finally given. 

The situation in Baku was evidently as bad as could 



WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 235 

be, and it seemed certain that the most we could hope 
for would be a passive defence, which obviously entails 
defeat in the end. We had already set to work to 
reorganize and train the local units, but it would be a 
long time before they could be considered mobile. They 
would be able to sit in their trenches and put up a stout 
reistance, and we would be grateful enough to them if 
they would only do this (and they did not). But the 
saving of Baku could only be effected by mobile troops, 
who would issue from their trenches and attack the enemy 
in his position. The only real plan for defending Baku 
was to secure and hold the heights due west of our lines 
now occupied by the Turks. If no forward movement 
on the part of the local troops were possible, the fall of 
Baku became only a matter of time. Still, even with 
the certainty of the fall before us, every day that we could 
delay the entry of the enemy was of value to the cause, 
and new factors might arise which would alter the balance 
in our favour. 

If the Turkish troops were of any value at aU they 
would have taken the town before now, and there was 
no hour on any day when they could not have taken it 
by a determined assault. There was never a day or a 
night that there was not a gap of one or two miles in our 
line owing to the intentional failure of local battalions 
to reach their destinations. The town was full of German 
and Austrian released prisoners, and the Tartar popula- 
tion of 80,000 might also be regarded as Turkish sympa- 
thizers. So the enemy should have been able to obtain 
most detailed information of our dispositions. 

We might reasonably expect another thousand of 
our own men, which would at once solve all problems by 
giving us the power of counter-attack without which our 
situation was hopeless and with which we could ward o£E 
any Turkish attack. The Caucasus-Islam army was not 
made of the stuff that will stand up against counter- 



236 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

attack, for which they gave us great opportunities on 
each occasion when they carried out an assault. 

Should we not receive the hoped for increase to our 
numbers, we might get a detachment of Bicherakov's 
back to the town. If all reinforcements for the town 
failed we might still hope for a diversion such as the 
materializing of a contemplated attack by the Erivan 
Armenians on the Turkish lines of communication in 
the rear of the troops attacking Baku. Even an 
indication of this would suffice to produce a panic in 
the Caucasus-Islam army. 

It must be remembered that we had come to Baku 
under very different conditions from those originally 
contemplated, the chief difference being the absence of 
Bicherakov's force, on which we had relied as a nucleus 
of disciplined troops to set an example to the others. 
Without Bicherakov we could still carry on, but it meant 
a greater consumption of time, and this was altogether 
a time problem. 

Had Bicherakov not made that fatal move to the 
north, but awaited our arrival in Baku, the town would 
never have fallen. But the future can never be foreseen, 
and I do not think that he can be blamed for carrying out 
the move, having due regard to the circumstances in which 
he was placed. Moreover, up to the last moment, I 
could not give him any guarantee as to when we should 
arrive or even if we should arrive at all. 

Had we been able to instil the least spirit into the 
local troops we might even without outside aid have 
won the day, but cowardice and disobedience of orders 
were rampant. I am far from wishing to brand Armenians 
as a whole as being cowardly ; my remarks refer only to 
the Baku Armenians, who are very different from the 
Armenians of Erivan and other mountainous tracts in 
Asia Minor, whose bravery has frequently been recorded. 
And I do not blame the Armenian soldier of Baku for his 



WE MAN THE BAKU LINE 237 

cowardice, which is at best merely a comparative term. 
He was not a soldier by instinct or training, but just an 
ill-fed, undersized factory hand. A rifle was pushed into 
his hand and he was told to go and fight. He had no 
equipment, no proper instructors, no decent officers and 
no regular arrangements for food supply. Meanwhile 
as he sat in the trenches, with the bullets whistling by and 
the shells bursting overhead, he knew that most of his mates 
had skulked back to town and were having tea with the 
girls, and why shouldn't he go too ? A Baku soldier 
could hardly be expected to prefer the crash of bursting 
shells to the delight of ladies tea-parties and the ease 
and comfort of life in the town. 

I hold no brief for the Baku Armenians, but I think 
it only fit to say that under such circumstances no 
troops could be expcted to display a high standard of 
valour. And finally I would add that there were many 
cases of individual bravery among them. 

The following is a translation of a handbill scattered 
throughout the town at this time in the vain hope of 
arousing some military enthusiasm : 

" Declaration. 

" We, the * frontiViki ' (veteran first-line troops) of the 
1st and 2nd Model Regiments for the defence of the front, 
and machine-gunners of the 2nd and 4th Companies, 
at the present calamitous moment, when the enemy is 
on three sides of us, when the ring that surrounds us grows 
tighter and tighter, when shells are bursting in the town, 
call upon all citizens capable of bearing arms, and appeal 
to all to whom the Fatherland is dear and in whom the 
spark of holy fire for the salvation of Russia has not 
yet been extinguished, to go to the front and defend their 
interests. 

" The present moment is not the time to engage in 



238 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

election agitations, or to attend meetings. All, as 
one man, should go to the front for the defence of 
our native town. 

" We must first finish one thing before we start 
another. 

" We protest against the Bolsheviks participating 
in the elections for the Soviet. That is not the place 
for the traitors of their country, and against whom we, 
the defenders of the revolution and proletariat, have 
been struggling. 

" Germans pawns must not be the arbiters of the fate 
of Russian territory. 

" We protest against the fact that many thousands 
of healthy citizens, armed from head to foot, walk about 
the town and terrorize the peaceful inhabitants, whereas 
the place for these heroes of the rear should be at the 
front. 

" We, frontiviki, who in a fateful moment are holding 
the front and saving the town, and who up to the present 
have not complained of our fatigue after being in the 
trenches without relief, protest against the shameful 
agitation behind the lines, and, expressing our full con- 
fidence in the Centro-Caspia only, we demand that the 
Dictatorship of the Centro-Caspia, with its own power, 
eliminate unworthy persons holding positions of authority 
in various organizations, and substitute worthier people. 

" (Three signatures.) *' 



CHAPTER XIV 
SHORT OF EVERYTHING 

I HAVE omitted to mention a rather curious incident 
that happened just on the day that Colonel Stokes 
arrived in Baku. On August 4th the Kursk (which 
had since become one of our ships) had arrived at Baku 
from Astrakhan with a German mission on board. 

As soon as the ship was tied up alongside the wharf 
the leader of the mission stepped ashore and asked to be 
directed to the Turkish Head Quarters. His surprise and 
disappointment were considerable when he was informed 
that there were no Turkish Head Quarters in Baku, that 
the Turks had not taken the town and never would. The 
entire party were taken prisoners, and I know nothing of 
their eventual fate ; they were quite probably released 
by the town authorities and may have joined the many 
Germans and Austrians who were wandering all over the 
Caucasus and Trans-Caucasia at this time. It is probable 
from their certainty of the town being in possession of 
the Turks, that positive news of its capture had been sent 
by the wireless operators at Baku to Astrakhan on July 
29th at the moment when the town had appeared, as 
previously related, to be already in the hands of the 
Turks. 

Questions were now asked ofiScially by the Government 
as to our reasons for the arrest of the Enzeli Committee. 
These questions were prompted by the party who were out 



240 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

to discredit us in the eyes of the Baku people by proving 
that our real aims were counter-revolutionary. I have 
already described the events that led to the arrest of 
these officials, and it was lucky that I was able to give 
an explanation that not only silenced our accusers, 
but tended to sway popular feeling very much in our 
favour. The town had no sympathy with renegades 
who had allied themselves with our enemies in Persia, 
especially as it must be remembered that the Jangalis 
had recently done to death several Russian parties on 
the Kasvin-Enzeli road. The behaviour of Cheliapin 
and his associates was therefore regarded as being as 
traitorous to his own folk as to us. 

One of the many difficulties that confronted us in Baku 
was the financial question. I cannot explain this better 
than by giving extracts from a report written by Major 
Newcome, of the Canadian Infantry. I was extremely 
lucky to find in my force this officer of considerable financial 
skill and experience, and, while I was relieved by his efforts 
of all anxiety, the British Government was saved very 
large sums by the protection I gained thereby from local 
sharks. I had first discovered his talents in Persia and 
had consequently attached him to Bicherakov's force to 
supervise the financial arrangements, and he now returned 
to me in Baku, bringing dispatches from Bicherakov, who, 
since his entry into the Caucasus, had been promoted to 
the rank of General. 

The report, it will be seen, was not written until imme- 
diately after the evacuation, but I insert it here, as a proper 
knowledge of the exchange question will be necessary for 
the general understanding of our situation in Baku. I 
may also note that while Major Newcome gives three 
rates of exchange, the local Government refused to 
recognize any difference between the three currencies, 
and made it a criminal offence to differentiate between 
them. It was necessary of course for them to issue 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 241 

such an order, otherwise the Baku notes would have 
been worthless even in Baku, whereas by this means 
they were compulsorily given a certain value. But in 
large transactions it was naturally found that if you 
produced Baku notes the seller regretted extremely 
he was quite out of stock, whereas the same man 
had plenty to sell if he saw Nikolai notes in your 
hand. 

The following is the extract : 

" I arrived in Baku on the 19th August with dispatches 
from General Bicherakov, who had just captured Derbend 
a few days previously. Owing to the uncertainty of 
normal methods of communication, it had been decided 
by the General that some one in touch with his plans and 
situation generally should visit General Head Quarters, 
Dunsterforce. 

" On my arrival here I was placed in charge of financial 
matters, and on looking into things found that we were 
confronted with a very serious state of affairs, it being 
necessary to provide for large expenditure for which no 
previous provision had been made, and in the entire 
absence of the usual machinery to faciHtate exchange. 
The banks and larger private business concerns had 
some time previously been nationalized, the skilled staff 
done away with, and now ignorant and unscrupulous 
committees were endeavouring to carry on. As a conse- 
quence of the many restrictions, etc., confidence on the 
part of the public had been entirely destroyed, and the 
only money in circulation was that required for the daily 
necessities of life. 

" Under these conditions, and also knowing that Persia 
left only a very limited field, I took immediate steps to 
persuade the various men at the head of financial matters, 
that the banks must be reorganized, personal enterprise 
encouraged and free use made of money deposited in 

17 



242 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

the banks, and other means adopted calculated to restore 
confidence. 

" It was necessary for me to secure some fairly large 
sums of money almost immediately, and with some little 
delay an advance of five million roubles was obtained from 
the Dictators. 

*' My attention was then turned to the sole remaining 
means of raising money, namely the selling of either 
sterling or krans. Transactions in sterling were only 
available in small amounts, and only from people who 
wished what money they had hoarded transferred to a 
safe place, and it would have taken some time to get in 
touch wdth these. In fact, only at the time of our leaving 
had I made arrangements for the first transfer of this 
nature of any importance, covering some ten million 
roubles, and delivery was to have taken place the day of 
the evacuation. The matter of rates took some time to 
adjust and had finally been settled as follows : Nikolai 
roubles 57 to the sovereign, Kerensky 71, and Baku bonds 
121. These rates were about 5 J points better than the 
present kran exchange for sterling. 

" By these quotations it will be seen that there were 
three dijfferent kinds of money in circulation, all of a 
different value outside of Russia and also to the initiated 
in Baku. The Nikolai was the old pre-war currency, 
the Kerensky was the issue of the early revolution, while 
the Baku bonds were a purely local issue. When the 
banks were nationalized all balances were seized, and 
drawings were restricted to 300 roubles a month. People 
then naturally began to hoard their money, and normal 
circulation ceased. In order to keep up some circulation 
for business purposes these local issues were then made, 
at first on the town securities with proper legal guarantee, 
but latterly merely printed as required. 

"It is estimated that the total of these local issues 
amounted to something in the neighbourhood of two 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 243 

hundred and fifty million roubles. These different issues 
all had different values in krans approximately averaging 
as follows. Nikolai 65 krans per 100 roubles, Kerensky 
46-47, Baku bonds 36-40 depending on the trade demands. 
This rate was also influenced by our heavy and continuous 
purchases of roubles in Persia for operations in Baku and 
the north. The first two issues were really current and 
accepted in other parts of Russia, but the Baku bond 
outside of Baku was looked on as valueless, and was of 
no use for the purchase of supplies, etc., at outside points. 
There was only a very limited supply of the first two 
currencies. Taking these matters into consideration I 
immediately decided that for all Baku purchases, expenses, 
pay, allowances, etc., payments would only be made in 
Baku bonds. 

" I also took steps to sell krans, accepting roubles in 
exchange at rates varying as above, and from this source 
obtained some eight million. 

" All through my operations it was my intention to 
establish some means of securing roubles direct for sterling 
exchange, and in another couple of weeks some of the 
schemes under way would have borne fruit. This means 
of obtaining funds had two advantages, firstly easing the 
situation in Persia, and secondly a much more favourable 
rate could have been obtained than is at present in force 
in Persia for the selling of sterling for krans. By obtaining 
sufficient funds in this way, the selling of krans would 
be limited to the usual trade requirements only, and thus 
a double saving effected." 

I should explain here that the officer originally entrusted 
with the financial arrangements for the force. Major 
Whitmarsh, had had to remain behind in Persia, being 
quite unable to deal with the two situations. I had 
foreseen that on moving to Baku I should be handicapped 
in this way, a large number of my best officers and meu 



244 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

being employed in Persia in appointments from which 
it was impossible to release them. For instance, my 
position would have been enormously improved if I could 
have had the services of Major Saunders, Captain Searight 
and Captain Cockerell, but to withdraw these officers 
from Persia would have meant a breakdown there. The 
result was that my Intelligence department in Baku 
was very weak, and I suffered much from lack of in- 
formation as regards the enemy ; every officer was fully 
employed — mostly in the firing line — and I had no surplus 
to draw on to undertake special tasks. Even Colonel 
Duncan, my able A.Q.M.G., whose services would have 
been invaluable, was naturally unable to sever his connec- 
tion with Persia entirely, and was only occasionally able 
to help me in Baku. 

I The excitement of the day was now the disarming of 
Shaumian and Petrov's men, and the unloading of his 
ships and restoration of their contents to the main 
arsenal of the town. The Government had nerved them- 
selves to the undertaking, and the Bolshevik leaders 
submitted after the firing of one or two shots by the gun- 
boats. The disarmament was very methodically carried 
out, each ship was brought in turn up to the arsenal pier 
(the arsenal itself being almost on the quay) and the 
contents of the hold removed and stacked on the wharf. 

\ The ships had not been very carefully loaded, and the 
contents of the hold varied from big-gun ammunition to 
gramophones, perambulators and stores of every kind, 
from which it is obvious that the statement of the 
Bolsheviks as to the necessity of removing a certain 

|, amount of ammunition for purely military purposes was 
J only a cloak to cover a general looting of the town. 

The process of disarmament lasted several days, at the 
end of which the thirteen ships were permitted to proceed 
to Astrakhan with their disarmed troops, a rather weak 

I proceeding. It meant thirteen ships permanently lost 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 245 

to Baku, as the Bolsheviks of Astrakhan naturally retained 
all they got hold of. On the other hand the Government 
was not prepared to imprison such a large number of 
Bolsheviks, and was equally unwilling to have them loose 
in Baku, so perhaps their departure for Astrakhan was 
the best solution of the difficulty. 

Shaumian and Petrov were imprisoned in the town 
jail. They w^ere released on the day of the fall of Baku, 
when they crossed over with a small following to Kras- 
novodsk. Unfortunately for them, Bolsheviks were at 
that time very unpopular in this Trans-Caspian port, 
and the entire party was destroyed. i 

We were now confronted with the difficulty of food 
supply. Baku produced nothing itself, and since the | 
revolution very little had been imported from outside. I 
In the days when the seller, and the buyer, and the shipper7 
each made a profit out of the transaction, the import of 
the necessary food-stuffs from various Caspian ports was 
a very simple affair. But under the socialistic plan of 
nationalization, imports had practically ceased. 

The goods in the port of departure were nationalized, 
and the ships that transported them were nationalized ; 
under such circumstances it was not to any one's 
interest to import anything whatever. Private enter- 
prise had entirely ceased, and State enterprise was 
a failure. 

If the town was to hold out against the Turks for any 
length of time, it would be necessary for us to concern 
ourselves with the question of supplies not only for the 
troops but for the civil population. I deputed Colonel 
Crawford, assisted by Mr. Clarke (a Baku resident), to 
inquire into the matter and report. Colonel Crawford 
was in command of the Locker-Lampson armoured cars, 
but as he showed signs of business ability, I added to 
his normal duties this of the Food Control Board. This 
is his report : 



346 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" Herewith a short report on the various organizations 
dealing with the purchase and distribution of food in 
Baku and as to how the food situation is affected by local 
politics. 

" The Commissariat (Food Control Department) is 
responsible for the purchase of supplies and distribution 
in the town through its agents in various districts. It 
is responsible for negotiation with the other departments 
as regards transport, shipping, etc., as well as with the 
authorities of neighbouring districts. 

" The distributing organizations are : 

** (1) The Co-operative Societies and their shops, con- 
trolled by a Co-operative Society Federation. 

" This organization is at present extremely unpopular 
owing to its inability to cope with the food shortage or 
to ensure fair distribution amongst the people. It does 
not appear to be more corrupt than any other department, 
but it is composed mainly of small men, only partly educated 
and without sufficient commercial or industrial loiowledge 
to manage such an organization efficiently. Its recent 
unpopularity has driven them to ask my assistance to 
improve this condition. They have very slight political 
significance, and are at the moment chiefly concerned 
about preventing their organization from being deprived 
of its present position. 

" (2) The House Committee Organization, composed of : 

" (a) Central House. 
(6) District Committees. 

(c) Sub-District Committees. 

(d) House Committees. 

This is the people's own organization. Originally organized 
for the purpose of giving people protection from robbery 
and violence, it was looked upon by the Bolsheviks as 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 247 

counter-revolutionary . Later it was made use of by them, 
and is now a legalized organization. It has latterly 
obtained a footing in the distribution of food. It is respon- 
sible for the statistics, and House Committees draw food 
for their members from the Co-operative shops. 

"This organization represents the householders and 
more responsible citizens of the town. The head organiza- 
tion, the Central House, is composed of prominent citizens, 
educated and commercial men. It is composed largely 
of pure Russians. Its tendencies are anti-socialistic. 

" (3) Workmen's Committees. 

" These assume on the oilfields the functions of the 
House Committees. The government is maintained in 
power by the workmen, whose policy is governed by food. 
Whichever party can provide food will also have the power. 

" The Food Control Department is largely composed 
of Jews, who are anxious for a firm authority in Russia 
which will ensure their position. They see no prospect 
of this in a Russian Russia. Realizing this to be the 
British policy they are mainly pro-German and in conse- 
quence pro-Turk ; they are therefore not enthusiastic 
over improvements suggested by the British. 

" It is not possible to devise any social machinery such 
as would satisfy the collectivist socialism of Russia, 
and which at the same time could cope with the food 
situation under existing conditions. The practical 
methods proposed by me, and w^hich they admit might 
prove successful, are of such an anti-socialistic nature 
that to introduce them would defeat their political 
aims. 

" The Food Controller, Roklin, is a social revolutionary 
and an ardent party man. He has no special qualifica- 
tions for his present position and no commercial or 
industrial knowledge. His first thought is his party 
and not the feeding of the people. 



248 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" He is using the food situation purely to further the 
interests of his particular party, and his proposal is that 
the British should buy the food and hand it over to him, 
and he gain thereby power for his party. The Central 
House have put forward a similar suggestion, with the 
exception that they would like us to take full control and 
hand it over when we had got the organization running 
satisfactorily. 

*' In my opinion it is not possible to make any definite 
improvement within two months, and any party attempt- 
ing to deal with the food situation now will suffer in 
popularity. I consider it would be unwise for the British 
to take it over for the same reason. Our interests will 
be best served by buying from all possible sources and 
handing over what we obtain to the local authorities, 
taking steps to make known what we so hand over.'* 

The scarcity in food naturally brought about a rise in 
the prices of all commodities, of which I will presently 
give examples. The artificiality of any currency system 
becomes very apparent in a revolution ; where all security 
comes to an end the value of money practically ceases 
to exist. Actual coins of precious metals disappear 
because the people hoard them, and their circulation 
entirely stops. Paper money has always played a large 
part in Russian currency, but there was presumably gold 
behind the Nikolai rouble, and its fluctuations in exchange 
before the war were very small. The rouble was then to 
all intents and purposes the same as an English florin, 
ten to the sovereign. 

As outsiders in Baku it was necessary for us to put 
down gold or a guarantee of gold to get our roubles, so 
that every time we spent fifty-seven roubles we put down 
£1. I mention all rates and prices in Nikolai roubles in 
order to make the three rates of exchange less confusing 
to the reader, although as a matter of fact certain com- 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 249 

modities were paid for in the ridiculous paper currency 
of Baku, and for certain others Kerensky notes were 
accepted. 

I cannot recall the price of bread, but the following 
incident will throw some light on it. I was present at 
the unloading of Shaumian's ships and found the Tartar 
coolies working very slackly. I spoke to one through 
an interpreter and asked what he was paid a day ; 
he replied twenty roubles (£2 old rate of exchange, ten 
shillings present rate). I said : *' What an unheard-of 
sum of money for the little work you do. In India your 
wages would be eightpence a day." To which he retorted, 
" Keep your roubles and give me bread. The twenty 
roubles do not fill my stomach, whereas eightpence in 
India probably would." 

The price of a water-melon in India is twopence, at 
Enzeli eightpence, in Baku twenty to twenty-five roubles 
(ten shillings). A bottle of vodka, normally two roubles, 
now cost one hundred roubles ; a pair of long field boots, 
a thousand roubles. I have already mentioned that a 
rather poor dinner in the hotel cost a hundred roubles. 
Where money has so little value the tendency seemed 
to be always to run in round figures ; the prices of most 
things seem to be either fifty or a hundred roubles. 

As Enzeli is only eighteen hours' steam from Baku the 
question may be asked why, if water-melons are eight- 
pence in the former port, they should cost ten shillings 
in the latter. The answer is, because the shipping was 
nationalized, which means that all private enterprise was 
dead. The only way in which water-melons reached 
Baku was the following : Ships, such as my transports, 
were ordered to Enzeli on duty. Before leaving on the 
return journey the crew clubbed together and purchased 
water-melons, stacking them in the hold and on the decks, 
till nothing was visible but a green mound of melons. 

On the arrival of the ship in Baku a queue of intending 



250 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

purchasers was formed from the ship's side along the pier, 
out on the quay and up the adjoining streets, so keen was 
the desire of the Baku inhabitant to possess himself of 
this uninteresting fruit at the enormous price of ten 
shillings apiece. The ship's committee deputed sales- 
men, who dealt with the produce over the ship's side 
till the stock was exhausted. Baku seemed to live on 
water-melons, and the only pudding we ever ate during 
the time we were there was a slice of water-melon, 
an invariable item in the menu of the hundred-rouble 
dinner. 

It will be seen that the sailors of these ships had quite 
realized the pleasures of " getting rich quick," and one 
of my transports from Enzeli, timed to depart on the 
evening of a certain day, refused to leave till the next 
evening because there was a shortage of melons on the 
Enzeli market, and the crew would not sail without. 
The profits were quite beyond those of an ordinary gold- 
mine ; you put down eight pounds, and in twenty-four 
hours you picked up a hundred and twenty pounds. 
If the water-melons had been nationalized as well as the 
ships, the prices would have dropped to normal, but 
as the nationalization of the fruit would have taken all 
the profits out of the transaction, nobody would have 
bothered to bring water-melons over to Baku. 

Having given a general idea of the economic conditions 
in Baku, I can return to the narration of more stirring 
events. 

After having made myself thoroughly acquainted 
with the situation in Baku, I concluded that the best 
method of dealing with the main problem, which was the 
control of the Caspian Sea, would be to visit the various 
ports whose situations, tactical and economic, linked up 
with ours. 

I intended to run the risks of the Bolshevik pirate 
ships and get up to Derbend to interview Bicherakov 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 251 

and see what he could do to work in with us. From there 
I would return to Baku in forty-eight hours, then visit 
Krasnovodsk to examine the harbour (which Commodore 
Norris was particularly anxious to do) ; thence to Enzeli 
to settle up finally with Kuchik Khan, capture every- 
thing I could lay hands on in the way of reinforcements, 
and make arrangements for rice supply from the Gilan 
country ; thence to Lenkoran to cheer up the little army 
there and arrange a raid north on to the Tiflis line on the 
Turkish lines of communication, and to fix up a proper 
supply arrangement. Our supplies from Lenkoran were 
being much interfered with by the obstructive " com- 
mittees," who were trying to nationalize the grain, with 
the natural result that the farmer found that they had 
none to sell. 

I carried out my programme as far as Enzeli was 
concerned. I failed to reach Derbend, and my plan for 
co-ordinating all operations on the South Caspian was 
not approved, so the remainder of the scheme was 
shelved. 

At 9 p.m. on the night of August 20th I sailed from 
Baku with a view of reaching Derbend (about 180 miles 
by sea) and rearranging plans with Bicherakov. It was 
known that Bolshevik ships were about, but I trusted 
to luck not to run into them. Unfortunately, as 
Bicherakov had only recently driven the Bolsheviks 
out of Derbend and had no armed ships to accompany 
his movements on the coast, there were likely to be a 
good many of these piratical craft knocking about. 

During the morning of August 21st we made good 
progress against a stiff breeze from the north and at about 
4.30 p.m. were approaching Derbend, when we observed 
a ship lying at anchor off the coast. I was on the bridge 
at the time with Commodore Norris, and we noticed 
distinct signs of uneasiness on the part of the Captain, 
who presently remarked : " I don't like the look of that 



252 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

ship. I think she is the Usbeg, and if so she is one of the 
worst of the Bolshevik craft." " Keep on your course and 
see what happens," was the Commodore's suggestion, 
and we continued to steer a course parallel to the Usbeg 
and about 2,000 yards distant, with a view of turning into 
Derbend, which was now about 4 miles ahead of us. The 
next thing that happened was a flag signal from the strange 
steamer, which the Captain read, " Come alongside and 
report." On this the identity of the ship as an enemy 
one became a matter of certainty, and two courses were 
open to us. The first was to steer ahead of the Usbeg 
and reach Derbend, risking the enemy's fire, before she 
could up -anchor and follow us. This was quite feasible, 
but if successful the Usbeg would only have to cruise 
outside the port and prevent our getting out, and we 
should be shut up there for an indefinite length of time, 
which was a situation not to be contemplated ; so that 
line of action was negatived. The second course and 
the one we adopted was to steer out into the open sea, 
turn and get back to Baku. 

As soon as our change of course became apparent the 
Usbeg opened fire with fair precision ; the shots fell all 
round but none struck the Kriiger, and our speed enabled 
us to escape without pursuit. Thus ingloriously ended 
our first fight on the Caspian. I determined as soon as 
I could get back to Baku to use this case as a final argument 
with the Dictators to compel them to agree to our arming 
some of the merchant ships, and at last assent was obtained ; 
so we were gainers to that extent by the episode. But 
it was a great score for the Bolsheviks, having prevented 
the meeting between Bicherakov and myself, which might 
have led to important results. 

We returned to Baku on August 23rd, and I wasted 
no time in waiting on the Dictators with my request 
for the ships we required to arm. The Commodore was 
getting impatient at the delay and showed no signs of 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 258 

getting accustomed to the dilatoriness and procrastination 
of revolutionary procedure. 

The next step was to get all in order for a possible 
evacuation, and a general plan was drawn up based on a 
concentration at the wharf where we now were and which 
appeared most suitable for the purpose. As a matter 
of fact there was a more suitable wharf in a position farther 
east which I had not discovered, but which we found later 
with the assistance of the Turks. The shelling of my ship 
became so accurate and constant (though the Kriiger bore 
a charmed life and was never once hit) that we were eventu- 
ally compelled to change our berth, and in searching for 
another accidentally discovered the wharf near the 
arsenal, which was in every way ideal and from which 
the evacuation eventually took place. 

Several attempts were now made to get us to release 
the Kursk and the Abo. No attempt was made on the 
Kriiger^ as I intentionally retained it as my Head 
Quarters, which the Dictators respected. Each ship was 
permanently guarded, evasive replies in the best 
revolutionary manner were given, coupled with a stolid 
refusal to comply with any such requests, and the ships 
remained in our possession. 

The town was rather heavily shelled on the night of 
the 23rd, terrifying the unfortunate inhabitants, but 
causing very little loss of life and doing us in a general 
way much good, by reminding them that the Turk was 
at the door. Whenever the shelling ceased for a day, 
the townspeople relaxed their efforts under the impression 
that the danger was not so imminent ; when it recom- 
menced they got spells of great activity, during which 
the troops made good progress in training. 

We were now getting things into excellent order. The 
Armenian troops were really drilling rather well in the 
town, though reluctant as ever to take their proper share 
of duty in the trenches. Colonel Warden had been ap- 



254 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

pointed Inspector of Infantry, his duty being to pass 
right along the line from flank to flank and see that the 
town troops were in their proper places (which he never 
saw), that their demands for food and ammunition supply 
were promptly met, and to listen to, and remedy if possible, 
the many just complaints and grievances of the men. 
This appointment was of very great use and did much to 
give cohesion to the line. 

Major Vandenberg, of the South African contingent, 
was placed in charge of the machine-gun defence of the 
whole position and effected great improvements. Before 
he took over his appointment the machine-gun situation 
was hopeless, the weapons being placed anyhow : some- 
times in trenches with parallel lines of fire, and no field of 
fire, followed by large gaps with no guns at all. The 
extraordinary state of affairs that existed may be under- 
stood, when I explain that in many cases soldiers regarded 
their armament as their own property and not the 
property of the army. On one occasion Major Vandenberg 
visited the line and sited the machine-guns according to his 
scheme. On visiting the line shortly afterwards he found 
one gun missing, thus leaving a gap in the belt of cross- 
fire. He complained of this, and was informed : " Oh, that 
gun belongs to X. ; he's gone off duty and taken his gun 
with him." This stupid behaviour was put a stop to. A 
school for instruction in the use of machine-guns was 
started in the town, which promised to result in a great 
improvement in general handiness and fire discipline. 

Colonel Rawlinson was placed in charge of the main 
arsenal and soon began to produce order out of chaos. 
When he took over the arsenal the contents were piled 
in confusion just as they had lain since the disarming of 
Shaumian and Petrov's men, when the assorted cargo 
from the holds of their ships had been thrown in anyhow 
on top of the already mixed assortment of ammunition. 
To comply with demands for ammunition on an emer- 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 255 

gency was almost impossible, the particular class of shell 
required having to be sought for anywhere in the heap. 
The ammunition store was partly occupied also by per- 
ambulators, gramophones, sewing-machines and other 
miscellaneous rubbish off the ships. In the arsenal yard 
guns of every type and calibre were lying about, sights 
missing, and breech mechanisms out of order or not to 
be found. These were soon sorted, put together and 
sent up to the front, until we had over thirty good Baku 
guns in action, our own British battery, No. 8 R.F.A., 
being the only mobile artillery in the defence. 

An officer and, where possible, one or more N.C.O.'s 
were appointed to each local battalion and battery, the 
latter soon attaining a high degree of proficiency and 
doing most excellent work. 

We now proposed to link up the local troops with our 
own, so as to bring them under proper discipline. The 
idea was to attach three local battalions to each of ours : 
the North Staffords, the Warwicks, the Worcesters, the 
commander of each British battalion commanding the 
small brigade thus formed. The idea was an excellent 
one, but it met with so much stupid opposition and delay 
that it was never properly introduced before the evacuation. 
I visited the Minister of War and got him to agree. I saw 
the Commander-in-Chief and received his assent, and 
the five Dictators and the Armenian National Council 
also agreed, after inserting many needless provisions ; 
but from agreement to action was a very long call in 
Baku, and we only reached the stage of action too late 
to be of any use. 

On the night of August 24th I sailed for Enzeli, reach- "^ 
ing there on the afternoon of the 25th. Peace was finally 
settled with Kuchik Khan, who from this time became our 
sole contractor for the big rice harvest of Gilan, which was 
very important to us in Baku. An exchange of prisoners 
was agreed to and Captain Noel at last released. With 



256 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

reference to this exchange of prisoners a question arose 

as to whether the restoration of prisoners was compulsory, 

or dependent on the wish of the individual. The Austrians 

whom we had taken prisoners at Resht and who had yielded 

themselves perhaps a little too willingly to us, objected 

strongly to going back to the Jangalis. But Kuchik 

Khan had evidently something to say to them, and refused 

to release Noel until we delivered them, so we had to send 
p 
them over. 

This was to be my last visit to Persia, as we would 
shortly be reaching the critical stage in Baku and it would 
be dangerous to absent myself. I took the opportunity 
therefore of impressing on the commandant and embarka- 
tion staff of Enzeli that we wanted all we could get in 
> the way of officers, men and supplies. The command 
in Kasvin had now been taken over by Brig. -General 
Bateman-Champain, of the Indian army, and I was no 
longer responsible for anything on the Persian side. 

On August 27th we arrived in Baku, bringing back with 
us a further consignment of four-inch and twelve -pounder 
guns and ammunition for the arming of our prospective 
fleet ; it was a good thing we were able to bring these guns 
with us, as from now on it became extremely difficult 
• to get anything from Enzeli. 

Colonel Keyworth came on board to report, and 
informed me of the Turkish attack on the Mud Volcano 
on the 26th, in which the Turks had gained their objective 
and our losses had been considerable. Further details of 
this action will be given later. It was certain now that 
the Turks had received the necessary reinforcements and 
were preparing for their great assault on the town. If 
we received any considerable reinforcements from Persia 
we could regard the issue with confidence ; if we did not, 
then it was merely a question of postponing the final 
fall and making the best arrangements for getting our men 
away when the crash came. 



fe>3 *:ivC *<. ^-« I ^'- *«?^ W>: 



".* ».• - -- - s»* 




Major-General Dunsterville and Colonel Aratunov 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 257 

The Turks were of course wise enough to foresee this 
and, with a view of stopping any further reinforcements 
for us from Persia, they commenced their advance from 
Tabriz on Kasvin, hoping that this threat would serve 
to check any further dispatch of men to me. This move 
of theirs had been obvious for many months, but there 
were difficulties in the way of our assembling sufficient 
troops to meet the attack on the Kuflan Kuh which was the 
strongest point of our defence on the road. The position 
was taken by the Turks and the road to Kasvin lay open. 
They never seriously advanced very far in the Kasvin 
direction once they had succeeded in their chief design, 
which was to stop reinforcements reaching me. Even 
individual officers of my original force, whose services 
would have been invaluable, were held up on the Persian 
side owing to the situation there. 

While going round the position the following day with 
Colonel Aratunov (Armenian), I was much struck with 
the general improvement in the town troops. If we had 
only had time we would in the end have made quite good 
stuff out of them. Ammunition, both artillery and small 
arms, was still being frequently wasted despite the urgent 
need for economy, and I drew the attention of an Armenian 
Colonel, who was commanding the right sector, to his 
artillery which was firing apparently at nothing. He 
replied, " Yes, they are not firing at anything, but the men 
in the trenches like to hear the sound of their guns now 
and then, and if I don't fire them off occasionally they 
will not stay in the trenches." 

The shelling of my ship, the Hotel d'Europe and the 
town generally was now becoming so accurate, that I 
could only believe that the enemy had a telephone line 
from the town, with an operator within a few hundred 
yards of myself. I do not think any artillery officer 
could give any other solution of the accuracy of their 
fire. They had of course a large-scale map of the town, 

18 



258 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

and without direct observation could easily put their 
shells within a given area, but the series of shells they 
fired for ranging purposes progressed with such unerring 
regularity and precision that it was quite uncanny to watch. 

From my ship, lying out in the open, clear of the town, 
the fall of each shell could be clearly seen, the series coming 
straight down towards me as down the steps of a ladder. 
Thus the first shell would land in the upper town, the 
next half way down, the next alongside, the next between 
the masts, and then the information of their having got the 
range would be notified and we would get two rounds 
battery fire. By some strange chance everything was hit 
except the gallant Kriiger. A boat just astern (with 
no one in it) was destroyed, and a heap of ammunition 
on the edge of the wharf within three feet of the side of the 
ship was hit, the shell boxes smashed open and two men 
on sentry-go slighty wounded, but no explosion took place. 

This example of the progressive series of ranging shots 
was of daily occurrence, and it is not possible to conceive 
any other means of attaining such unerring accuracy 
except by means of a telephone, but we were never able 
to find it. 

The Hotel d' Europe was shelled with equal accuracy, 
and with equal immunity from loss of life. At the busiest 
time of the day various rooms were struck by H.E. 
shells, but never an occupied room. The clerks at their 
work were peppered with dust, a Russian lady type- 
writer was knocked over unharmed by the explosion of 
a shell in the adjoining room, and Major Newcome had 
a narrow escape. We soon had to give up the upper 
storey, and in the end evacuated the hotel entirely, re- 
moving our Head Quarters to the Metropole, to which the 
Turk at once transferred his attentions. In the end both 
hotels were knocked to pieces, people in the street and 
some of the hotel staff were killed, but of my party not 
one was touched. 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 259 

At this time I generally remained on board ship, 
but occasionally transferred myself to the gorgeous chamber 
and the plush upholstery of the Hotel d'Europe. It was 
extremely inconvenient, but I had to sleep in the hotel 
for a week, as our traducers had started a rumour in 
the town that the British General slept on board ship, with 
a view of deserting the town in case of a serious attack ! 
During the first few days of my stay in the hotel they sent 
a man daily to see if I was really there. 

We were being very closely watched by many parties, 
and a representative from the Russian Legation in Teheran 
was also in the town taking notes. I received various 
deputations every day and occasionally entertained them 
on board the Krilger. Among such deputations was one 
from the Russian business men, who had much to suggest 
and propose, but any endeavour to work with or through 
them would have been damaging to our interest as they 
were labelled by the town " Bourgeois " and " Counter- 
revolutionary," so that I could not even afford to be seen 
talking with them. I also had an interesting meeting with 
one of the leading Tartars, a very intelligent and highly 
educated man, but if I were known to be entering into 
any sort of relations with these excellent people the town 
would have been in an uproar, so again I could do nothing 
for the time being. Had we remained in Baku I feel 
sure we could have eventually settled the Tartar- Armenian 
quarrel. As it was, in order to meet this gentleman I 
had to go at dead of night, unaccompanied except by my 
guide, to a house in the Tartar quarter of the town, where 
I was ushered, after ascending many flights of stairs, into 
his rooms. 

Steamers were now leaving daily for Krasnovodsk 
crowded with refugees wisely escaping from the wrath 
to come. Their departure was an advantage to us, any 
reduction in the civil population helping very much to 
simplify the supply question. 



260 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Colonel Chardigny, of the French mission to the Cau- 
casus, was also in Baku at this time, and we discussed 
together the extent to which it would be advisable and 
possible to destroy the facilities for oil production and 
refinery before leaving the town to the enemy. 

I enlisted a few helpers locally, and among the most 
useful was Mr. Dana, an American citizen who had been 
employed in the oil works here and was now at a loose 
end. I attached him as interpreter and assistant to Colonel 
Rawlinson, and he did very good work. Ladies of the 
English colony in Baku were taken on as hospital nurses, 
and proved a blessing in their care and attention to the 
sick and wounded. 

Captain Noel, just released from the Jangali prison, 
reported his arrival and at once put up a scheme for a 
raid on the enemy's lines of communication in a tract of 
country with which he was previously acquainted. Colonel 
Rawlinson was also engaged in the preparation of a similar 
scheme to be undertaken through Lenkoran and across 
the Mughan Steppe. Schemes of this nature were neces- 
sarily extremely hazardous, but their chances of success 
were considerable ; however, the end was too near at 
hand to enable us to put any of them into execution. 

Colonel Battine, who was getting along well with Kuhn, 
the Dictator of Krasnovodsk, came on August 29th to 
confer, and returned to his post the same evening. 
Representations from Lenkoran also arrived, so that we 
had good co-ordination of work in the surrounding districts. 
I was particularly anxious to keep on good terms with 
the Krasnovodsk people, as I hoped that when Baku 
fell I should be allowed to reform my troops at Enzeli 
and cross over to Krasnovodsk to recommence operations 
in the Turkestan direction from there, linking up eventu- 
ally with General Malleson*s mission on the railway north 
of Meshed. 

Major Rowlandson, whom I had sent with Bicherakov's 



SHORT OF EVERYTHING 261 

party, had been doing very good and hazardous work 
and was now on a special mission to join up wdth Colonel 
Pike in the North Caucasus. The latter was soon after- 
wards killed and Rowlandson had a hard time to extricate 
himself from his Bolshevik surroundings in Vladikavkaz, 
which he finally succeeded in doing. 

Major Haslam, R.E., had been entrusted with the 
entire scheme for wiring the front. He was engaged on 
this duty in the neighbourhood of the Mud Volcano when 
the Turks attacked that position on August 26th. He 
at once threw in his lot with the defenders and was 
killed. 

The Armenian leaders in the town were really making 
great efforts to get their men up to the scratch, and it is 
no fault of theirs that their efforts met with no great 
success. There were many fine men among them, such as 
Colonel Amazasp and Colonel Aratunov. The charge 
of treachery brought against the Baku Armenians cannot 
be substantiated. Individual Armenians may have had 
tendencies to betray both us and the town, but I had no 
evidence to prove even this. It must be remembered that 
Shaumian, the leader of the Bolsheviks, was himself an 
Armenian, and he was certainly against us — not as an 
Armenian, but as a Bolshevik. I may close these remarks 
on the Baku Armenians by stating that while heroism 
was rare among the men, there were certainly remarkable 
instances of bravery, and the Armenian women in the 
firing line were nothing less than heroines. The lack 
of fighting spirit on the part of the men as a whole has 
already been explained ; it was based not purely on cowar- 
dice, but also on an utter inability to understand anything 
about warfare. On one occasion the Turks emerged from 
their position in broad daylight, moving across the open 
desert of the railway valley, seemingly with the intention 
of assaulting a certain portion of our line. One of my 
officers in charge of an Armenian battalion urged the men 



262 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

to move forward and man the trenches to meet the 
attack. The troops refused to move, and their spokesman 
exclaimed, " What, go up there ? Why that's just where 
the Turks are coming ! " 

Commodore Norris now had his first experience of the 
Baku fleet and revolutionary methods of fighting. He 
proceeded on board one of the gunboats to shell Turkish 
trains which were in movement on the line south of 
Baku. This line was within a thousand yards of the coast, 
and trains on it offered a splendid target for the naval 
guns. When within a fair range the guns opened fire, 
but the shooting was poor and the results were nil. The 
Commodore suggested to the Captain that he should stand 
closer in to the shore, so as to shorten the range and make 
sure of a hit. Orders to this effect were no sooner given 
than consternation appeared on the faces of the crew, 
who promptly sent the spokesman of the committee to 
interview the Captain. " The crew," he began, " wish 
to know what is the meaning of this change of course ? " 
The Captain replied, " The English admiral thinks you 
would make better shooting if we got closer in to the shore." 
To this the spokesman replied, "The ship is to be put back 
at once on her former course and no change is to be made 
till the committee have discussed the matter." The 
original course was consequently resumed, the committee 
meeting was held, and decided unanimously that as the 
enemy were known to have a field battery somewhere on 
this part of the coast, to stand closer in might be to bring 
the gunboat under fire from the shore. The order was 
consequently cancelled and a safer one issued, that the 
ship should at once return to Baku, which was promptly 
carried out, and the operations abandoned for the day. 



CHAPTER XV 
THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 

THE accidental discovery of the new wharf was 
entirely due to the desire of the crew of the Kriiger to 
get away from the enemy's shell fire. The occasion which 
I described when the ammunition dump ought to have 
been blown up, but was not, showed that the Turks were 
very accurately aware of the position of my Head Quarters. 
A move farther east might get us altogether out of the 
range of their guns, and if it did not it would at least take 
them some little time to pick up the new range. So 
when the shelUng next began the crew, without waiting 
for orders (or even holding a committee meeting), took up 
their position at the new wharf, which they had evidently 
previously selected. I had not a word to say. It was no 
more pleasure to me to be shelled than it was to them, 
and the new wharf offered many facilities for a quiet 
evacuation that the previous one did not. It was in a 
less conspicuous part of the town, and in the neighbour- 
hood of the arsenal, and the approaches to it were easy 
to find by night. The Kriiger lay on the east side of the 
wharf, the Kursk on the west and the Abo tied up on her 
outer side. 

More detailed orders were now issued to units with 
which each individual man was made acquainted, and 
each unit was directed to make itself thoroughly acquainted 

268 



264 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

with the nearest route from its position at the front to the 
embarkation wharf. 

In this chapter it will be necessary for me to give 
several extracts from my correspondence with the local 
Government. It must not be imagined from these that 
I had acquired the revolutionary love of writing. I was, 
as a matter of fact, most unwilling to use my pen, but 
these statements of opinion had to be put down in black 
and white to prevent the officials from denying later 
that they had been informed of certain facts and intentions. 
The matter contained in the letters was usually the gist 
of a conversation previously held, and subsequently 
put in writing for record : nearly all my work was actually 
done verbally in the first instance. In some cases verbal 
means were impossible, owing to the difficulty of finding 
the person to whom one wanted to talk. A luncheon 
interval of five hours was not unusual for the civil and 
military officials in Baku, though there were some admirable 
exceptions to this rule, and it must be admitted that 
Russians are wonderful night-workers, and they were 
very probably making speeches and passing resolutions 
by the score when we were comfortably in bed. 

It now remains to describe the fighting that resulted 
in the capture by the Turks of the Mud Volcano on August 
26th. On this day the position of the troops was very 
much as I have stated in my description of the general 
position in Chapter XIII. I had visited the spot and 
spoken with the officer commanding concerning the 
necessity of keeping in touch with the Armenian support 
in Baladjari. With this support at hand the danger of 
the position was not too great to be risked, but if this 
support failed the position could not be held against a 
serious attack. The detachment was in telephonic com- 
munication with Baladjari station, and if the telephone 
was cut or failed a mounted messenger would not have 
far to go to call up the Armenians. As far as I can 



THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 2«5 

discover this Armenian support was never there, but 
Colonel Kazarov, who commanded this sector of the 
defence, asserts that it was always there except on the 
day when it was required. On that day there was 
some misunderstanding as to reliefs, the old troops 
marched back to town, and the new troops had not 
reached Baladjari when the attack took place. 

The position was assaulted by the best Turkish troops, 
who were evidently specially selected and attacked with 
the greatest bravery and determination. Their numbers 
were not large, and if, when the Armenian support from 
Baladjari had failed, the local Baku troops right and left 
of the Mud Volcano had moved out to threaten the flanks 
of the assaulting column, the attack would have failed. 
But no movements of any sort took place and the local 
troops stuck to their usual role of interested spectators. 

I cannot describe the action better than by quoting 
in full the report of Colonel Faviell, commanding the 
39th Brigade, which is as follows : 



" Turkish Attack on August 26, 1918. 

" The Mud Volcano position was held by D Company, 
North Staffordshire Regiment, under the command of 
Captain Sparrow, M.C. 

" The attack opened at 10.30 a.m., when the enemy 
were seen debouching from south-west of Mud Volcano 
in four lines in extended order, with a body of cavalry 
operating on their right flank. 

" The strength of the enemy forces was estimated 
about one thousand. 

**' The attack was launched with great vigour, sup- 
ported by light and heavy artillery fire on our positions. 
For some considerable time the enemy were held by our 
machine-gun and rifle fire. Five separate attacks were 



266 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

launched on No. 1 Post. The fifth succeeded in an- 
nihilating the defence in that particular section. 

" About 12.30 p.m. the enemy succeeded in working 
round the northern flank of the Volcano and, bringing 
up machine-guns, they then opened heavy and accurate 
fire in reverse on No. 2 and 3 Posts, his attack on the 
southern flank being at the same time annihilated. By 
1.30 p.m. No. 2 and 3 posts were rushed by the enemy ; 
only about half a dozen unwounded men succeeded in 
getting back from the actual positions attacked. 

" All the officers were casualties, and about eighty men 
of the company are at present missing, including these 
officers. Reinforcements under Major Ley, D.S.O., con- 
sisting of sixty North Staffords, and seventy Royal 
Warwicks, dispatched in lorries from Baku at 1.30 p.m., 
arrived too late to save the position. One company 
9th Worcester Regiment dispatched as a further rein- 
forcement at 3 p.m., came under Major Ley's orders 
shortly after 3.30 p.m. 

*' In conjunction with the above operations the enemy 
launched an attack on the hill west of Binagadi village 
from the village of Novkhany. This hill had been held 
by an Armenian battalion. 

" During the attack on the Volcano one company 
North Staffords at Diga were ordered to move to Binagadi 
village to support this battalion. Arriving about 2.15 p.m. 
this company, seeing that the hill was not held by our 
troops, pushed up the hill, and arriving at the summit 
found the enemy about 250 strong advancing to occupy 
it, having already reached the lower slopes on the northern 
side. The leading men of the North Staffords immediately 
occupied the trenches below the crest of the hill and poured 
in a heavy fire with Lewis -guns and rifles at short range, 
driving back the enemy with severe loss. The company 
suffered slight casualties, only about ten killed and 
wounded, including Lieutenant Craig, who was com- 



THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 267 

manding the company, and Lieutenant Macbeth, both 
of whom were wounded. Shortly afterwards the enemy 
reformed and launched another attack, but this was 
easily driven off before the enemy reached the lower 
slopes, and he retired in disorder to a sunken road out 
of effective range. 

" After we were driven off the Volcano, we occupied a 
new line as follows. From Binagadi hill west of the 
village to Baladjari railway station with two intermediate 
posts, one of one company Royal Warwicks among the 
oil derricks east of the Volcano, and another of one com- 
pany North Staffords south of them in the low ground 
between that place and Baladjari station. 

*' (Note. — Two local battalions which had been ordered 
to Baladjari as reserve for this section of the line had not 
left Baku when the attack took place. It appears either 
that they refused to move or that the local staff had failed 
to transmit the orders of the Commander-in-Chief.) '* 

The splendid gallantry of this company of the North 
Staffords saved Baku on this occasion, and once again 
postponed the inevitable fall. Had the attack fallen on 
local troops there would have been nothing to check 
the Turkish advance on to the line of the cliffs and thence 
into the heart of the town. It now became an urgent 
question as to whether I could justify myself in allowing 
more lives to be risked in a cause that seemed beyond all 
hope. 

The rations for troops were a matter of some difficulty. 
We never suffered from a shortage of good wholesome 
meat and bread, but all that goes to make food palatable 
and wholesome such as vegetables, jam, butter and milk 
were unobtainable. I was lucky getting some splendid 
honey from Enzeli, and the men were once or twice cheered 
by an issue of Baku beer which bore some slight resem- 
blance to the real stuff. In Baku, where cheap things were 



268 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

dear, dear things were cheap, and I was able to issue a 
ration of the greatest delicacy, namely fresh caviare. 
But caviare requires a trained palate, and the soldiers, 
who called this rumoured delicacy " herring paste," had 
no great liking for it. 

Another difficulty was the lack of transport. We had 
with us some of the Ford vans of No. 730 Company, 
which after nine months of the roughest usage were still 
doing splendid work, but the number was quite insufficient. 
The fact that these cars were usable at all was solely due 
to the great skill and care expended on them by Captain 
Aldham, who had been with us from the start, and who 
had nursed the cars as if they were his own children. 

The town possessed a good deal of mechanical trans- 
port in various stages of disrepair. One of our mechanical 
transport companies could have got most of the vehicles 
working in a few days, but these revolutionaries with their 
committee methods are incapable of accomplishing any- 
thing. All matters are referred to committees, and even 
if the decision of the committee is a favourable one, the 
deliberations generally last so long that the point under 
discussion has lost its importance by the time a decision 
has been reached. Thus every battalion has its committee, 
and so has each company in the battalion ; and committee 
meetings are actually held during the progress of an 
action. One may hazard a guess that the troops allotted 
for the support of the Mud Volcano failed to arrive because 
they were holding committee meetings to decide whether 
they should take action or not. 

The futility of these committees is obvious from the 
fact that when they have reached a decision they have 
no power to enforce it, and the men do not consider 
themselves at all bound by the committees unless their 
decisions are in accordance with their own wishes. They 
may finally say, " We will not go." The solution is simple 
— appeal direct to the men. This annoys the committees 



THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 269 

very much, but it settles the matter finally one way or 
another. 

There are many brands of revolutionaries in Russia 
at the present time who disagree on many points, but all 
unite in asserting the freedom, equality and brotherhood 
of man. It is this freedom and equality that puts a stop 
to all enterprise, each man saying, " I'm not going to do 
it, if the other fellow doesn't" ; so nobody does anything. 
The Bolshevik troops and officials are in just the same 
frame of mind as the soldier I mentioned in Chapter III, 
who said, " I am a Bolshevik, but I do not know what 
Bolshevism means, as I cannot read or write. I just 
accept what the last speaker says. I want to be left 
alone and helped home, and as the committee in Kazian 
is Bolshevik, I am too. If it were anything else I would 
be that." Lenin and Trotzky from the first have held 
the money and the arsenals, then obviously if you want 
a daily wage you must enrol yourself as a Bolshevik, 
and if you want to fight you must fight as a Bolshevik, 
because they alone control the supply of arms and 
ammunition. 

In addition to the two leaders, all the Bolshevik 
committee men are in a minor sense true Bolsheviks, 
and would not be willing, like the ordinary man in the 
street, to accept any other form of revolutionary govern- 
ment that could feed and arm them. Men change their 
minds like weathercocks, and the Bolshevik of to-day 
is the Menshevik of to-morrow. In Baku most of the 
previous Bolsheviks were now sincere well-wishers and 
active supporters of the British Government, simply 
because we represented cash and armed strength. 

But I should imagine that the whole of Russia, to 
whatever category of revolutionary ideas they may 
subscribe, are longing, like the people of Baku, for any 
form of government that will restore some sort of law and 
order. They are heartily sick of their liberty, equality 



270 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

and fraternity. Revolutionaries are quite the least 
brotheriy people towards each other that the worid 
contains, and constitute a living refutation of their 
fundamental doctrines. 

On my return from Enzeli I took an eariy opportunity 
of discussing the events of August 26th with General 
Dukuchaiev, and received from him many explanations 
and assurances that such failure to support our troops 
would never occur again. His intentions were certainly 
of the best, but we found later that he was unable to 
give effect to them. 

I also addressed the Dictators on the same subject, 
and took the opportunity of pointing out that I had never 
seen any of them or the military staff (with the exception 
of von der Fless) at the front. They contented themselves 
with studying the position on maps in their offices, and 
issued orders based on reports that were frequently untrue, 
and they never attempted to verify these reports by 
having a personal look round. 

During the next three days the Turks kept us pretty 
busy with minor attacks which were not pressed home, 
and on August 31st, they again attacked in force, this time 
on Binagadi hill, which was held by our troops for the 
reason that it had seemed to be the most likely place of 
attack. This time every precaution had been taken to 
secure adequate support, but again the town troops 
failed to do their duty. I give Colonel FavielFs report 
in fuU. 

" Report on Turkish Attack on Binagadi Hill 
ON August 31, 1918. 

" At dawn rifle fire was heard from the direction of 
Binagadi hill, occupied by one company 7th North 
Staffords, strength eighty all ranks, under Lieutenant 
R. L. Petty, M.C., who reported an encounter with a strong 



THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 371 

enemy patrol. At 6 a.m. a second report was received 
to the effect that the enemy, strength about 500 rifles, 
was massing for an attack at the foot of the western slopes 
of Binagadi hill. Information received from various 
sources confirmed the report, and it became obvious that 
an enemy attack was about to take place. 

" I accordingly ordered Head Quarters and one com- 
pany Royal Warwicks at Diga to move to the centre of 
Binagadi oil derricks and remain there in reserve. At 
the same time I asked Colonel Kazarov, commanding Right 
Section to move the armoured train to Baladjari and 
there create a diversion against Mud Volcano. At 6 a.m. 
the attack developed, supported by machine-guns and 
about twelve field and mountain guns. The machine-guns 
had been brought under cover of darkness to within 500 
yards of our position, and so placed as to enfilade our 
trenches. These machine-guns were placed in the open 
behind large shields, without any attempt at concealment. 
The hill was swept with intense machine-gun fire and the 
defences considerably weakened by casualties, and the 
necessity of withdrawal, unless the hill could be reinforced, 
became probable. The Russian commander was asked 
for support which was eventually given, but the reinforc- 
ing troops only reached the eastern slopes of the position 
after the evacuation. At about 7.50 a.m. Binagadi hill 
became untenable. Lieutenant Petty, the company com- 
mander, had been killed, and to avoid complete annihila- 
tion our troops at 8.30 a.m. were compelled to withdraw, 
and fell back steadily to the right of Warwick Castle. 
The Royal Warwick Company from Diga arrived too late 
to save the position. At 11.5 a.m. an attack against 
Warwick Castle developed. The loss of Binagadi hill, 
together with the failure of the Armenian battalions in 
reserve in Binagadi village to support the right, exposed 
that flank, and the retirement of an Armenian battalion 
on the left of Warwick Castle left both flanks of the 



272 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

position in the air, a weakness of which the enemy took 
full advantage, and he soon began working through 
the rough ground round the position to within forty 
yards of it, compelling the withdrawal of the garrison 
to avoid complete isolation and capture. 

" The Royal War wicks then fell back steadily to the 
line of Binagadi derricks, thence turning north-east 
through the western end of the derricks. Our line roughly 
was then from Baladjari — running north towards the 
eastern end of Binagadi derricks, and then to Biga, 
with large gaps at intervals. 

" I then ordered the company of the Royal War wicks 
in reserve to occupy the line of Binagadi derricks, but 
they only succeeded in obtaining possession of the southern 
edge of the line, and considering the line unsatisfactory 
I withdrew them to a more southerly position about 
200 yards clear of the derricks. Having no further 
reserves at my disposal, I decided that it was impossible 
to hold the line with the troops then occupying it, and 
consequently asked permission to withdraw to the line 
Baladjari village along the forward railway embankment 
to the western edge of the Darnagul salt lake. Sanction 
having been obtained, the withdrawal took place after 
dusk, and the new line established. Two companies of 
the Royal Warwicks at Diga having been placed under 
the order of Major Dayrell, remained at Biga, which 
place was attacked the same evening, for which opera- 
tions I am submitting a separate report. 

" Total casualties : One British officer killed and 
one British officer died of wounds, thirty-four British 
other ranks killed, wounded and missing. Reports 
received as to enemy casualties all agree that they were 
very considerable. The enemy carried out the attack 
with vigour and determination. Having no reserves 
under my hand to assist the garrison at Binagadi hill, 
complete annihilation was merely a question of time, 



THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 273 

and further resistance would have produced no other 
result." 

During the progress of the action described above, 
I came across Major Engledue with one of the town 
battalions. The moment was one when, without even 
waiting for orders, every man should have been moving 
to the front, yet the men of this battalion were rapidly 
progressing towards the town with their backs towards 
the enemy. Major Engledue, assisted by two British 
N.C.O.'s, was vainly endeavouring to stem the tide, but 
with no great success. He managed at last to get them 
to line up on the railway embankment, but by this time 
two-thirds of the men were already well on their way into 
the town. This oJSicer remained doing splendid work 
with the local troops till the end, and was very severely 
wounded in the final action of September 14th. 

The result of the day's action was enough to fill one 
with despair. I returned to the town, spoke with the 
Commander-in-Chief and with the Dictators, and later 
embodied my remarks in the following letter : 

" To the Provisional Government of Baku. 
** (Copy forwarded to the Chief of the Staff.) 

" Sirs, 

" I feel it my duty to put before you my i^ 
opinion of the present military situation in Baku. 

" To begin at the beginning. You are aware that for 
six months I was looking out for an opportunity of helping 
Baku. 

" Towards the end of July the Bolshevik Government of 
Baku was overthrown and I was invited to come to the *• 
aid of the town. I had at that time very few troops at 
my disposal, and of those not many could be spared owing 
to the necessity of dealing with many situations in Persia, 

Id 



274 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

including the movement of Kuchik Khan. I arranged 
terms of peace with the latter and sent you the few troops 
I could. I then wired to Baghdad and have forwarded 
on as fast as possible all troops as they arrived. 

" It must be remembered that Baghdad is 900 versts 
from Enzeli ; the road is not good, and even with auto- 
mobiles reinforcements cannot move quickly. 

" I took it that the situation in Baku was that there 
were perhaps 15,000 fighting men, scarcely trained at all, 
but armed and inspired with a fierce determination to 
save their town. I therefore regarded the proposition 
as quite favourable — with a nucleus of some 2,000 to 
3,000 regular troops and some artillery, such citizen 
soldiers should be able to accomplish a good deal on the 
pure defensive. 

" Unfortunately the Baku authorities apparently ex- 
pected at least 16,000 British troops, and, lacking military 
knowledge, had not calculated the great length of time 
necessary to convey that number of troops with stores, 
supplies, ammunition, equipment, etc., a distance of 900 
versts. They expected that this number of troops would 
suffice to hold the town with an active defence (as indeed 
they would), while the Baku citizen army retired entirely 
from the front line and occupied itself with training in 
the rear. The result has been, I understand, a deep 
feeling of disappointment on the part of the inhabitants 
of the town, and a sense that they have been deceived 
by their English Allies. It should be understood by all 
that no exact number of troops was asked for or 
promised. 

" The Turks are not merely attacking Baku, but are 
threatening my lines of communication in Persia, advanc- 
ing towards Hamadan and Kasvin from the north-west, 
and they will also probably succeed in making Kuchik 
Khan break the peace I have lately concluded with him. 
Thus my difficulties of reinforcing Baku are very much 



THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 275 

increased, and troops intended for us have had to be 
diverted to meet the various Turkish movements towards 
the Kasvin-Hamadan road. 

" At the present moment a great additional reinforce- 
ment of British troops is not to be expected, owing to the 
Turkish advance from the west on my line of communica- 
tion, and in the end it is possible that the line of com- 
munication may be cut and we shall be quite isolated 
from Baghdad. 

" I was present at the front this morning during the 
Turkish attack on Binagadi hill. When I arrived on the 
scene, large numbers of Baku soldiers were moving in 
twos and threes from the direction of the enemy back 
to Baku. Meanwhile the small British detachment of 
seventy men held on to the position and asked for a 
counter-attack by the Baku troops in reserve in the village 
of Binagadi. To bring off such a counter-attack was not 
difficult, and it was certain of success, but nothing happened, 
and my troops had to retire and yield the position to the 
enemy. I believe a few troops did move forward, but 
nothing really serious w^as afforded in the shape of support. 

" Under such conditions it will shortly be necessary 
to withdraw the line of defence to the high ground just 
south of the railway line. This will shorten the line 
considerably, but has the disadvantage of being the last 
stronghold, from which any retirement means the surrender 
of the town. It also gives the Turks full possession of 
the whole Baku peninsula north and east of the town, 
and enables them to shell the town at their pleasure 
from three directions. 

" Still, even in this position the actual town and port 
can be saved, but only if the Baku troops develop, what 
they do not now possess, the spirit to fight and the determina- 
tion not to yield. If, on the other hand, these retirements 
are to continue every time your troops come under fire, the 
further defence of Baku is a waste of time and life. 



276 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" I am willing with my troops to continue the defence 
to the bitter end, but it is quite hopeless to endeavour to 
do so with troops who have no intention of fighting. 

"Baku, August 31, 1918." 

In the afternoon I received an invitation from General 
Dukuchaiev to be present at 8 p.m. at a Council of War. 
I replied that I was not in favour of such councils, but if 
it was decided to hold one I should be glad to be present. 

Accordingly at 8 p.m. I presented myself at the Govern- 
ment offices, accompanied by Colonel Clutterbuck and 
Captain Bray, Colonel Stokes was also present as Chief 
of the Staff to General Dukuchaiev. 

I found the Commander-in-Chief seated at the central 
table with maps spread before him, and he offered me a seat 
at his side. The entire room was filled with the members 
of the various committees. The Armenian National 
Council was there in full force, the five Dictators, Work- 
men's Delegates, Soldiers' and Sailors' Delegates, and 
Peasant Deputies. It did not appear likely that a Council 
of War held on these lines was going to achieve anything 
useful. 

The proceedings commenced by General Dukuchaiev 
giving a very clear but lengthy appreciation of the 
situation, his remarks being punctuated by interpellations 
of assent or disapproval from the members of the various 
committees. He was, however, permitted to conclude 
his address without serious interruption, and he finally 
summed up his remarks by saying, " The enemy have 
taken A and B, and will probably next move on to C, 
which will render D untenable, etc. I therefore propose 
to alter the whole line as follows ..." 

Before the concluding remarks were out of his mouth, 
a burly sailor arose and strode up to the table to give his 
views of the situation. He made use of the General's 
map, indicating points as required by the use of his broad 



THE ENEMY WITHIN THE GATES 277 

thumb, oblivious of the fact that his thumb covered more 
than a square mile of country, leaving his points rather 
vague. He spoke for an hour with obvious enjoyment, 
repeating himself a good deal and wandering off the track 
every now and then to work in some well-worn tag, or 
to give vent to some such sentiment as " We will fight 
to the very last drop of our blood," which produced 
vociferous applause. He eventually arrived, in the correct 
manner, at his summing-up, which was the exact contrary 
of that of the Commander-in-Chief, and he suggested plans 
of action which were the reverse of those outlined by 
the Commander-in-Chief, and urged the taking up of 
a line totally different to that advocated by the Com- 
mander-in-Chief. 

His final peroration was to the following effect : " The 
Greneral says the Turks are holding such and such points. 
That is not so, their line runs thus (describing the enemy's 
imaginary line with considerable detail). He says we have 
had to give up B. That is not so. I have just had 
a telephone message from a friend of mine out there. 
The General says we must take up such and such a line. 
He is quite wrong. That is not the line to take up. This 
is the one (more detail). His counsel is not that of a 
brave man. We mean to fight to the bitter end, etc." 

To my surprise the General in no way resented this 
amateur interference with his plans, in fact he seemed to 
think there was a good deal in what the sailor said. 

When this speaker had reluctantly resumed his seat, 
the Armenian National Council had their say, proposing 
plans neither agreeing with those of the Commander-in- 
Chief, nor with those of the sailor. After them the Dictators 
had quite a fresh plan to propose, differing from all the 
others. The Dictators were followed by other speakers, 
each with his own views to put forward, and each inspired 
by a desire to continue talking as long as his breath held 
out. 



278 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

So time went on till the clock struck one and my 
patience was exhausted. How long the meeting continued 
I do not know, but having decided that it was quite time 
for my Staff and myself to be in bed, I apologized quietly 
to the Commander-in-Chief and withdrew, leaving the 
assembly to continue their futile discussions. 



CHAPTER XVI 
THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 

ON the following day, September 1st, I talked over 
the situation with General Lewin, who was on tour 
from Baghdad and was returning that day, and decided 
that a further continuance of the defence of Baku must 
be given up and the British Garrison withdrawn. 

I accordingly sent a message round to the Dictators 
and the various committees asking them to meet me in 
the Hotel d'Europe at 4 p.m., when I would have a very 
important communication to make to them. 

At the hour named the various committees had 
assembled and I addressed them as follows : 

" What I have to say can be said in a very few words. 
No power on earth can save Baku from the Turks. To 
continue the defence means only to defer the evil moment 
and to cause further needless loss of life. Up till now my 
men have done all the fighting. In each action, in spite 
of the bravery of my soldiers, the Turks have succeeded 
in capturing each position, owing to the lack of support 
from local troops. I will not allow my men's lives to be 
thrown away in vain in this manner. We came here to 
help your men to fight the Turks, not to do all the fighting, 
with your men as onlookers. In no case have I seen your 
troops when ordered to attack do anything but retire, and 
it is hopeless continuing to fight alongside of such men. 

279 



280 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" I am about to give orders to withdraw my men from 
the firing line and I shall move them from Baku to-night. 
I have invited you here to give you this warning, so that 
you may be able to fill the gaps in the line caused by the 
withdrawal of my men. You would be best advised to 
send out a party at once with a flag of truce to the enemy 
and see what terms you can make with him. You will 
have no difiiculty in securing terms which will enable 
you to get your women-folk away, and you will at the 
worst be able to bring about a better condition of ajffairs 
than will be the case if you wait till the Turks and the 
Tartars take the town at the point of the bayonet. I 
beg you will forego your usual custom of speech -making 
and the passing of resolutions ; this is a time to act and not 
to talk. Every man in this town knows and feels the truth 
of what I have said ; what then will be the use of prolonged 
discussions ? I will leave you here, however, to make 
what decisions you like, and will return in an hour when 
I hope you will have completed your deliberations." 

While I was making this speech I noticed expressions 
of doubt, horror, despair, and in some cases rage and 
hatred on the faces of my listeners. They seemed abso- 
lutely thunderstruck, as if the idea of the possible fall of 
Baku was being put before them for the first time. As I 
spoke of the withdrawal of the British detachment, 
Yarmakov sprang from his chair and left the room. I 
begged Major McDonnell to follow him and watch him. 
He was always a man of action and capable of making 
a quick decision, and I knew he had gone to the telephone 
to call up the gunboats to open fire on our ships if we 
attempted to leave the port. 

During the next hour I visited General Bogratuni, the 
War Minister, and found he had nothing to say against 
my proposal to withdraw my troops, beyond begging 
that I would not do so. 



THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 281 

When I returned to the hotel I found the various 
committees all passing resolutions as fast as they could. 
I begged of them to cease the resolutions and take some 
action, and again left them. In another hour I returned 
and found a sailor just putting the fourteenth resolution 
to the vote. After that it appeared certain that no action 
would be taken that day. Under such conditions I could 
not, in fairness to the town, carry out the immediate 
withdrawal of my troops, and they remained in their 
position. I sent, however, a warning note to the 
Dictators, to which I received this reply : 



''September 1, 1918. No. 34, Baku. 
" From the Provisional Dictatorship of the Centro-Caspian. 
" To Major-General Dunsterville, British Army Staff. 

" We beg to inform you, in reply to your letter of 
the 1st inst., that the British troops can only be per- 
mitted to leave Baku at the same time as our own troops 
and on the same terms, and only after evacuation of the 
town by non-combatants. 

" Signed by six members of the Prov. Dictatorship of 
the Centro-Caspian and the Presidium of the Provisional 
Executive Committee. 

" Signed by the Secretary (illegible).'' 

On September 2nd and 3rd, the Turks showed little 
signs of activity, and our troops remained in their previous 
position, but from this moment everything was prepared 
for an immediate evacuation, and only the word " go " 
was necessary to set the whole scheme working. 

On September 3rd I addressed the following letter to 
the Commander-in-Chief : 



282 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

" To General Dukuchaiev. (Copy to Dictators.) 

" I learn with regret that the decision adopted on 
September 1st by the majority of those interested in the 
fate of Baku was overridden by some of the young members 
of the Dictatorship. The members responsible for this 
decision, in opposition to the more experienced leaders, 
do not perhaps realize the future tragedy for which 
they have made themselves responsible. 

" The plan I put forward was with a view of saving the 
large population of women and children from needless 
massacre, a result it would have achieved. The present 
course of action will, I fear, end in a sauve qui pent. 

" So many miracles have so far occurred in our favour 
that we may have perhaps even more, but nothing less 
than a miracle can save the town from falling into the 
hands of the enemy. And when it does fall there will be 
no further warning. A successful attack from the north- 
west would bring the Turks into the town before the 
inhabitants were aware of their proximity. 

" The danger point now is the right angle formed north 
and west of Baladjari Station. It seems to me now 
clearly indicated that this is where the final Turkish attack 
will be made, while their cavalry will possibly endeavour 
to come round our extreme right. No one can foresee 
military events with certainty, and the attack may come 
elsewhere, but this is a point where large reserves are 
necessary. 

" As regards my own troops, I am glad to have the 
honour of accepting your orders tactically, as long as my 
troops are not cut up into small detachments. But as 
I understand that your war plans are controlled by the 
Dictators, young men of no war experience, I must decline 
to carry out any movements which I consider injudicious. 

" With regard to the very curt reply of the Dictators 
concerning the withdrawal of my troops, I do not consider 



THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 283 

the command of my troops to be in the hands of the Dic- 
tators, nor do I intend further to waste the lives of my 
men by allowing them to hold on to positions when not 
supported, and when units on their flanks retire. 

" I have therefore instructed my commander at the 
front to use his own discretion and to withdraw his 
troops entirely from the fighting line when he thinks fit. 

" This is the second time that I have spoken to this 
effect, and when the time comes it will not be possible 
to give you any further warning." 

On September 4th I received this interesting communi- 
cation from the Baku Government : 

To Major-General Dunsterville, British Army. 

" Your Excellency. 

" Your letter to the Dictatorship, dated the 
3 1st August, and your own and your assistants' verbal 
statements that Baku will have to be surrendered, that 
beyond the number of British troops already forming 
your army you are unable to give * a single soldier,' and 
finally your letter to General Dukuchaiev of the 3rd 
September, compel the Dictatorship of Baku to inform 
you in your capacity of Commander of the British Forces 
and representative of the British Government at Baku as 
follows : 

" When we entered into a military agreement with you 
We assumed joint responsibility with you for the 
preservation of the town and district of Baku, both for 
the Russian Republic and for the common front of the 
Allies. 

" Our alliance with you led to a rupture with the Bol- 
shevik power in Russia. The supply of fighting men, 
ammunition and materiel, foodstuffs and other commo- 
dities to Baku had ceased altogether. You are, we trust, 
not aware that after the overthrow of the Bolshevik power 



284 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

in Baku, the representatives of Lenin's Government were 
willing to acknowledge a Coalition Government in Baku, 
to supply soldiers, ammunition and materiel, etc., and to 
afEord us active assistance in the defence of Baku on 
one condition, viz. the withdrawal of British troops 
FROM Baku and district. 

" We were unable to accept this condition. We believed 
that in order to save Baku, to secure a democratic peace 
in Europe, to bring about the annulling of the degrading 
peace of Brest, and to upset the plans of conquest formed 
by Germany and her Allies, concerted action with you 
was necessary. 

" We considered therefore (and in this respect we based 
our conclusions on our negotiations with you and on your 
own and your Government's declarations and announce- 
ments), that you would bring to Baku a sufficient force, 
not only to relieve the town from siege, but even to clear 
the enemy out of Trans-Caucasia which has been torn 
from the Russian Republic. 

** Unhappily we were mistaken. During a period of 
more than a month to the 3rd September you have 
transferred to Baku little more than one thousand 
MEN, with six guns and some other technical items. 

" Leaving on one side the question of the force required 
to drive the enemy out of Trans-Caucasia, the assistance 
supplied by you is totally inadequate even for the 
purpose of compelling the enemy to raise the siege of Baku. 

" Whatever explanation may be forthcoming of the 
inadequacy of the support you have rendered, however 
excellent the military behaviour and technical equipment 
of your Baku detachment, we consider it necessary to 
inform you (and we request you to communicate our 
views to your Government) that you have not rendered 
the aid which we were entitled to expect of you, 
on the grounds of your own pronouncements and declara- 
tions and those of the representatives of your Government. 



THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 285 

" Moreover, having in view the terms as offered to us 
by Lenin's Government, we assert that your forces have 
not only failed to augment but have actually reduced 
the defensive strength of Baku, on which we might have 
relied had we accepted the terms of the Bolshevik 
party. 

*' In view of the foregoing we insist that yof immedi- 
ately TRANSFER SUFFICIENT REAL FORCES FROM PERSIA 

OR Baghdad. We consider this assistance indispensable 
FOR us AND OBLIGATORY ON YOU. In the expectation 
of this assistance (we also expect reinforcements from 
Bicherakov in Petrovsk and the North Caucasus) we con- 
sider it imperative to sustain the attacks of the Turkish 
Army for the next few days. 

" We trust that in this we shall be successful. We 
reject the suggestion to surrender the town to the enemy, 
and are surprised at your insistence in urging such a 
course. We are imbued with the sense of the imperative 
necessity to fight to the end, to the last possibility. We 
are convinced that your small, but in every respect 
admirable, detachment will do its duty and share our 
common fate. United by the bond of a common pur- 
pose, WE MUST AND SHALL BE TOGETHER. Either We 

win, or if history decides we perish together. 

" Your letter to General Dukuchaiev was based on a 
misconception. You suggest the surrender of the town. 
We value your experience very highly, but we hold that 
the suggestion of surrender is inadmissible and that all 
possible means have not yet been exhausted. Such being 
the case, your detachment must operate in contact with 
the whole of the Baku army, of which it constitutes part. 
The commander of your forces must act under the general 
operative control of the commander of the Baku army. 
In no case can he be permitted to * act on his own initi- 
ative and to withdraw his troops from the firing line,' 
as you say in your letter of the 3rd September, * whenever 



286 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

he may consider it necessary.' There is a fundamental 
principle of military wisdom ; Unity of action — Unity 

OF CONTROL. 

" We trust that your military experience and the excel- 
lent organization of the British Army will not only enable 
us in these difficult days to realize such unity of action, 
but will furthermore create such conditions in our army, 
feebly organized as it is and deficient in training and 
officers, yet prepared to lay down its life, as will enable it 
to offer effective resistance to the enemy's attempts to 
take the town. 

" In conclusion we beg to point out that the Dicta- 
torship has no intention whatever * to command your 
detachment ' or to influence military operations. The 
Dictatorship of the Centro-Caspian and Ispolkom (Execu- 
tive Committee) represents the supreme power in Baku, 
pending the assembling of the Baku Council of Workmen, 
Soldiers' and Sailors' Deputies, and has appointed suit- 
able and trained specialists (the Commander of the Force 
and the Chief of the Staff at the front and the Military 
and Naval Commissary at the rear) to the office of directing 
the fighting forces, to whom is entrusted the control of 
the military operations of the army and who, we trust, 
with your direct co-operation, will carry out firmly and 
energetically, the only military demand of the Dictator- 
ship, viz. the defence of the town at all costs from the 
Turks, until such time as the necessary reinforcements are 
forthcoming, whether from your side or other parts of 
Russia, and thus strengthen the common fighting front of 
the Allies against the armies of the Turko- German 
coalition. 

" (Signed) President of the Dictatorship : 

H. TUSHOFF, 

Vice-President, Members and Secretary. 
(Signatures illegible.) " 



THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 287 

Judged purely on its merits as a literary effort 
this letter could hardly be improved on, but judged 
from the standpoint of facts its merits are entirely 
lacking. 

The narrative up to this point will enable the reader 
to see for himself the fallacies on which most of the argu- 
ments are based, but I will single out the most important 
ones. 

The statement of their basing their expectation of 
more substantial aid on the grounds of my pronounce- 
ments is entirely refuted by my letter to Dr. Araratiantz 
in Chapter XH. 

As to the Dictators not desiring to command my troops, 
the truth of the matter is that although they had appointed 
a Commander-in-Chief, they interfered in all military 
matters, even going to the length of issuing orders direct 
to the town troops and sending indents for ammunition 
required at certain points direct to the arsenal. 

Finally, the statement to the effect that the Baku 
army was prepared to lay down its life was as far from 
the truth as any statement is capable of being. Had the 
Baku army been inspired by any such feeling, the defence 
of the town would have been easy, and we could have 
driven the Turks back to Tiflis. But I have already 
given a few examples, out of the many that occurred 
daily, showing that to " lay down its life " was just 
exactly what the Baku army was unanimously determined 
not to do. 

Before receiving this letter, I had already sent the 
following communication to the Dictators : 

" Dictators. 

** As it is essential to any form of success that allies 
should work together in friendly harmony (and I regret 
to state that since my arrival here the Government have 



\y 



288 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

never ceased to regard the whole of my work in a most 
unfriendly way), I think it advisable to forward for perusal 
copies of certain dispatches, the originals of which may 
be seen in my office on application to me. 

" My contemplated withdrawal of my troops in the last 
extremity has been also regarded as a dishonourable act. 
I wish to point out for the benefit of those who have not 
studied war and who do not know the rules of war that 
it is the first duty of every commander to avoid needless 
sacrifice of lives when a situation is hopeless, to avoid 
surrendering his troops to the enemy and to place them 
in a fresh position whence they may be able to continue 
their general operations against the enemy. 

" It is said that by failing to send a larger detachment 
here the British have betrayed the town of Baku. This 
cannot for a moment be admitted. In the face of immense 
difficulties, and at the sacrifice of their plans elsewhere, 
the British responded to your appeal for help, and sent 
to you every man they could spare. For three weeks the 
British troops have borne the brunt of attacks by over- 
whelming numbers, and it cannot be denied that they 
have fought with courage, and have freely given their 
lives for you. Their presence here has at least postponed 
the evil day of the fall of Baku, and in the last event I 
am confident that it will enable you to make better 
terms with the enemy than you could otherwise have 
done. 

" With this explanation, together with my letter of 
August 31st, I trust the whole matter may be made quite 
clear and that we may avoid misunderstanding in future. 
The enemy has agents among you even of your own 
nationality, whose one task is to sow discord between us. 
Do not let them succeed.'* 

The whole correspondence was closed by the following 
letter, which I dispatched on September 5, 1918 : 



THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 289 

" To the Dictators of the Centro-Caspian Government, 

" Gentlemen, 

" I have received your letter of the 4th September, 
the contents of which I have transmitted to the High 
Command in Baghdad. 

" Since writing, you will have received my letter of the 
same date, with extracts from telegrams which I trust 
will completely remove any misconception as to what 
my attitude has been. 

" I am fully in agreement with all that you say as to 
the importance of saving Baku, and I have never ceased 
to impress this view on my Government. I am bound to 
point out, however, that your view of the conduct of the 
British Government in failing to provide a sufficient 
force to raise the seige of Baku is based on a fallacy. 
Neither I nor my Government have ever declared that 
we could bring to Baku a sufficient force to save Baku 
unaided. On the contrary, we were led to believe that 
Baku already possessed a fighting force of at least 10,000 
men, who only required organization and a backing of 
a small British force to render them capable of defeating 
the enemy. I have no desire to belittle the bravery of 
the men of Baku, still less to enter into a controversy 
with you on the subject ; and in saying that neither in 
discipline nor in steadiness under fire have they come 
up to my expectations, I refer to this matter for the last 
time. 

" It now remains for us to face the situation together, 
and to do our best to meet it with the means at our disposal. 
I have submitted to your Minister of War a proposal for 
the organization of the Baku forces in brigades, which I 
am confident will lead to good results. If you see any 
objections to the proposal, I trust that you will tell me 
frankly what they are. 

'*The promise of reinforcements from Petrovsk, 

20 



290 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

together with a thorough reorganization and the infusion 
of a new spirit into the Baku troops, may temporarily 
put a new complexion on the situation. But it is still 
my duty to warn you that the chance of saving Baku by 
military force is very remote. I have reliable information 
that the Turks and Germans are sending very large rein- 
forcements, including aeroplanes and heavy guns, to their 
army before Baku ; and I put it to you in terms of the 
strongest recommendation that you should urge on the 
evacuation of your women and children by every means 
in your power. 

" Baku, 

''September 5, 1918." 

The foregoing extracts from the correspondence which 
passed between myself and the Baku Government will 
give a very clear idea of the situation in that town in the 
first week of September 1918. 

Before I finally quit this subject of the Baku Govern- 
ment, the military command and the peculiarities of 
revolutionaries in general, I wish to make it quite clear 
that I have no intention of belittling their laudable efforts 
or of making fun of their troubles. The ridiculous situa- 
tions I have described would presumably take place to a 
greater or less degree in any revolution in any country. 

It is extremely easy to break down an existing form 
of government, but to build up anything substantial in 
its place is a matter of considerable difficulty ; and a 
long period of disorder must ensue during which the best 
efforts of the best men will not suffice to prevent ridiculous 
situations from arising. The military staff could not be 
expected to accomplish much more than they did with 
untrained troops and with no powers of enforcing discipline. 
The young men who composed the Dictatorate were keen, 
intelligent and enthusiastic. In many ways they achieved 
remarkable successes. 



THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 291 

While all previously existing laws were in abeyance, 
the maintenance of order among the citizens of Baku was 
remarkable, and the difficult task of rationing the popula- 
tion was dealt with courageously. 

On September 6th a shell intended for our Head 
Quarters fell a hundred yards short and set fire to a house 
in the adjoining street. In five minutes the fire engines 
were at work, the firemen being smartly turned out and 
as efficient as in any town in Europe. The fire was quickly 
got under, and by that time the fire brigade received an 
urgent summons to another quarter of the town, to which 
they responded with equal alacrity. This episode struck 
me as showing a very marked advance towards the restora- 
tion of general order in the town. 

During the week from September 5th to September 
12th good progress was made in training of troops, but 
discipline still remained weak, and troops dispatched to 
take up certain positions in the line often failed to reach 
their destination. The enemy contented himself with 
minor operations carried out with a view of discovering 
our weak points, and with very frequent shelling of the 
town. 

We had now two Russian hydroplanes and two of 
our own aeroplanes at work, and as the enemy possessed 
no aircraft this should have given us a great advantage 
over him. But September is the month of hot winds 
and dust-storms in Baku, and the advantages we might 
have gained from aerial observation were nullified by the 
bad weather conditions. 

We had six armoured cars in action, three of our own, 
and three Russian under Captain the Marquis d'Albizzi, 
all of which did extremely good work. 

On September 12th an Arab deserted to us from the 
Turks, and from the information we obtained from him 
we gathered that the enemy were preparing for a great 
assault on September 14th. This information was ex- 



292 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

tremely useful, as it enabled us to have all our troops on 
the ground, whereas on ordinary occasions a certain 
proportion were always employed on various detached 
duties. But our informant was unwilling or unable to 
give any exact information as to where the attack would 
fall, and we had therefore to make dispositions with our 
very small number of troops to meet an attack on a large 
scale on any part of a 14-mile front. The Arab certainly 
made suggestions about our left being the point of attack, 
and that flank was accordingly strengthened ; but it was 
impossible to rely on his rather vague assertions, nor was 
it likely that he would be in possession of such information 
which would certainly be kept secret by the enemy Head 
Quarters till the last moment. 

The warning as to the probability of an attack on 
the following day came just in time to enable me to keep 
back Colonel Rawlinson, who was to have left on September 
13th for Lenkoran, whence he was to carry out a raid in 
Ford cars on the enemy's lines of communications north 
of the Mughan Steppe. The intention was to destroy a 
bridge on the Tiflis line and so cut the railway in the rear 
of the Caucasus-Islam Army. Colonel Rawlinson had 
made very careful preparation for this task, and I am 
convinced that it would have met with success had time 
allowed of its being undertaken. 

A slight increase to our garrison had recently been 
received in the shape of 500 men with ten machine-guns 
sent by Bicherakov, with a promise of more as soon as 
he could arrange for dispatch. These men were not of 
his best troops, in fact they were mostly composed of 
Baku men whom he had taken north with him in August, 
and who were now merely returning to their homes, but 
their training and discipline was superior to that of the 
local forces, and they were a welcome addition to the 
garrison. 

It was certain that during the ensuing fight and possible 



THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 293 

withdrawal telephones would play a large part. We were 
well equipped with these, and Major Pulverman, who 
had been in charge of our signalling arrangements for 
the last six months, was busy throughout the day and 
during the next day's fighting in keeping the lines in 
working order. Both he and Captain Foxlee were experts 
at their work, and the success of the final evacuation is 
due in a great measure to their being able to keep com- 
munication going up to the last moment. 

Our aeroplanes had during the last week been able, 
in the occasional lulls in the dust-storms, to observe the 
enemy's movements, and their reports were to the effect 
that a large number of troop trains were constantly arriving 
from the west, from which it became increasingly clear 
that considerable Turkish reinforcements were arriving. 
In spite of this the Dictators persisted in clinging to the 
fanciful idea that the Turks were evacuating ! 

Up to the very last moment the question of the Brigade 
organization to which I have referred was still under 
discussion, furnishing our last example of the dilatoriness 
of revolutionary procedure. The Dictators demanded that 
in all cases the Brigade Commander should be a Russian 
or Armenian officer. To this I replied that I had no 
objection to my troops serving under a Russian or Armenian 
commander, provided that he were not only of the proper 
seniority, but also an officer of considerable experience 
in the present war. They had no officers of the necessary 
war experience, but I would have eventually agreed to 
anything to get the movement started, and would have 
relied on getting things into order later. In any case 
I knew that the British battalion commander would see 
things through on the right lines, whether he were in 
command or not. 

At the same time the army, the fleet and the town 
generally were daily becoming more impatient at the 
ineffectiveness of the Dictators, and a strong movement 



294 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

was on foot to remove the present Government and to 
hand over the entire control, civil and military, to the 
British. 

This was a question I had already considered. It had 
sometimes appeared to me that the only solution of the 
difficulty would be forcibly to remove the Dictators and set 
up an allied government, with full power of civil and 
military administration in my own hands. 

I was very much tempted to take this line of action, 
but I had to abandon the idea in view of the paucity of 
officers available for the various tasks that would become 
necessary. The great majority of my officers had been 
left in Persia, and not one of those now in Baku could be 
spared from the firing line or from the various adminis- 
trative appointments we were already holding. 

I had therefore to rest content with the limited control 
we had already secured by having a British officer as 
Chief of the Staff and others in charge of the arsenal, 
the machine-guns and the combined infantry of the 
defensive line. 

On the night of September 13, 1914, the general dis- 
position of the Baku troops and our own was as 
follows : 

The high ground on the extreme left of the line, covering 
the Bibi Eibat oilfields, was held by A Company of 
the 7th North Staffords, about 60 rifles, under Captain 
Bollington. A battalion of Armenians (probably not 
much over 100 strong) was in local reserve in rear of this 
flank. At Wolf's Gap was a detachment of Russians 
with two machine-guns. A hundred rifles of the North 
Staffords, which were the only British troops in general 
reserve, were sent at dusk to occupy the crest of the hill 
in rear of A Company, the intention being to guard 
that particular point, which dominated the whole of the 
left flank from a night attack, and to withdraw the reserve 
at daybreak by motor transport to Baku. 



THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS 295 

On the northern slopes of this hill were a battery of 
three-inch field guns and two howitzers. 

To the north of Wolf's Gap about 800 yards of the 
line were held by B Company of the North Staffords 
under Captain Turkington. The line was prolonged to 
the right by Armenian troops to a point opposite the 
village of Khoja Hasan. One battery of howitzers and 
one of three-inch field guns were posted north of the 
Wolf's Gap road. A reserve of two Armenian battalions 
was posted at White House, 1 J miles on the road to Baku, 
where was also the Head Quarters of the left section, 
commanded by Colonel Beg Surab, with Major Dayrell 
as liaison officer. 

The right section of the defences, commanded by 
Colonel Kazarov, with Major Engledue as liaison officer 
commenced from opposite the village of Khoja Hasan. 
From that point to the apex of the Baladjari salient the 
line was held by Bicherakov's brigade, about 600 strong. 

Baladjari was held by two companies of the 9th 
Worcesters, and the line from Baladjari to Darnagul by 
the 9th Royal Warwicks. The south bank of the Darnagul 
salt lake (which was almost dry) was held by an Armenian 
battalion, and the defile immediately east of it by four 
machine-guns of the Armoured Car Machine Gun Squadron. 
One company of the North Staffords, about 50 strong, 
was in local reserve at the point where the Baladjari road 
crosses the ridge ; and a company of the Warwicks, 
100 strong, was in local reserve at the 39th Brigade 
Head Quarters, about 2 miles east of that point on the 
Baku-Binagadi road. Four field batteries, including the 
8th Battery R.F.A. and one battery of howitzers, were 
with the right section. Two of the British armoured cars 
were stationed at Baladjari, the third was in reserve at 
Baku. A force of about 500 Armenians with a battery 
of three-inch guns, three Russian armoured cars and the 
cavalry squadron, was operating in the vicinity of Sura- 



296 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

khani on the extreme right, in order to check a Turkish 
mounted force which was threatening that flank. This 
threat was never of a serious nature, and General Duku- 
chaiev was urged to withdraw the greater portion of this 
force to reinforce his left, but he was unaccountably- 
nervous about his right flank and refused to weaken it. 
The command of the combined troops was of course 
in the hands of the Russian Commander-in-Chief, but 
the executive commands for the movements and dis- 
positions of the British troops on September 14th were 
actually given by Colonel Key worth, who was throughout 
in communication with Colonel Stokes, Chief of the Staff 
to General Dukuchaiev, and by Colonel Faviell, com- 
manding the 39th Brigade, on the right, and by Major 
Ley, commanding the 7th North Staffords, on the left. 
I was myself in close touch with General Dukuchaiev, 
as well as with the Dictators, and General Bogratuni, the 
Minister of War. 

This statement takes no account of most of the Baku 
troops, whose dispositions were never known to us. We 
received copies of the orders issued by General Duku- 
chaiev, but the troops never moved in accordance with 
these orders. 



CHAPTER XVII 
THE WITHDRAWAL 

BEFORE dawn on this fateful day, September 14th, 
the information given by the Arab deserter had 
been proved to be entirely accurate. 

At 4 a.m., from my Head Quarters on board the S.S. 
President Kriiger alongside the Caucasus-Mercury wharf, 
the sound of very heavy firing all along the line announced 
that the great attack had begun. Now for the supreme 
test of the Baku troops ! If they would only hold firm, 
all would be well. Their training and morale had latterly 
much improved, the position had great natural strength, 
and if the Turks gained a footing on the heights above 
the town they could only do so after suffering heavy loss. 
Should this happen a counter-attack would give us the 
victory, and before another attack on a large scale could 
be brought off reinforcements from Bicherakov in the 
north and from our own people in the south would render 
the town practically impregnable. 

So it was with high hopes that we realized that the 
issue was now to be put to the test, hopes that were to be 
dashed to the ground on the receipt of the first telephone 
message. This despairing message was to the effect that 
the battle was over, and the victorious Turks were advanc- 
ing at a run, without opposition, on the town. This was 
no great exaggeration of the actual facts, which were as 
follows. Attacking at 4 a.m. due east across the Railway 

297 



298 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

valley on to the Wolf's Gap, the Turks had stormed this 
strongest part of the line, where the road leads directly 
up the steep cliffs, and having broken right through the 
Baku battalion supposed to be holding this line, were now 
actually in possession of the heights immediately above 
the town, within some hundreds of yards of its outskirts 
and 3,000 yards from the wharves. It was incredible 
that this strongest portion of the whole line should so 
easily have fallen to the enemy, especially when all troops 
had been warned of the impending attack, but though 
incredible it was true. With troops who suffered immediate 
defeat with every factor in their favour, truly there was 
nothing more to be hoped for from Baku, and the problem 
now became one of how to save a rout and hold up the 
enemy long enough to enable an orderly evacuation of 
our troops to be effected. 

If the enemy already had his cavalry and infantry on 
the high ground, his guns should be there shortly, and once 
they were there the harbour lay at his mercy. 

But at this moment the Caucasus-Islam Army was 
seized with its usual hesitation, giving us time to make 
such dispositions as almost enabled us to turn defeat 
into victory ; in fact, victory would even now have been 
assured if the town troops would only have made the 
smallest effort. 

The 900 rifles of the 39th Brigade — which with some of 
Bicherakov's men and the town artillery were all that 
could be relied on — were disposed with the Warwicks and 
the Worcesters on the right, facing north opposite the 
Baladjari Railway Station, and the North Staffordshire 
on the left, with their left on the sea. 

The pressure being now entirely on the left centre 
and left, and the Turks being in actual possession of the 
centre, it became necessary to withdraw the North Staffords 
to a second position, thus saving them from being out- 
flanked and shortening their Hne, while still retaining hold 



THE WITHDRAWAL 299 

of the higher ground. This shortening of the line enabled 
Major Ley, who handled his battalion throughout the day 
with great skill and bravery, to send one company to 
engage the Turks holding the plateau, while Colonel Key- 
worth dispatched further reinforcements to strengthen 
this part of the line and endeavour to render the enemy's 
position on the plateau untenable. 

These dispositions, which were effected by 8 a.m., 
entirely stopped the Turkish advance, but owing to the 
security afforded to the enemy by the folds in the ground, 
and the small number of British troops available rendering 
counter-attack impossible, our efforts did not succeed 
in driving him from the position, which he held throughout 
the day. 

However, the enemy's advance was now checked, and 
all hope was not lost. To use a considerable portion of the 
39th Brigade for counter-attack, which one was much 
tempted to do, would have resulted in the usual melting 
away of the portion of the line from which they would 
have to be withdrawn, and was consequently not to be 
thought of. Was it too much to still hope for some 
form of counter-attack from the town troops ? This was 
the hope we clung to throughout the day, and which more 
than once seemed on the verge of realization. Counter- 
attacks ordered by General Dukuchaiev seldom even got 
as far as the assembly of the necessary troops, those detailed 
for the task mysteriously failing to reach the rendezvous. 
But there are exceptions to every rule, and among 
unheroic people one does get remarkable instances of 
heroism. 

Twice a counter-attack was got on the move and 
advanced bravely, but bravery mthout skill is unavailing. 
The leading was bad and failure was the result. In most 
cases the Baku battalions had fine commanders, but 
company and platoon commanders, who are all-important 
in counter-attack, were miserable. 



•00 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

However, at 8 a.m. the situation was not so bad. The 
left was fairly secure, the centre had been reformed, and 
the Turks on the plateau were now unable to pursue the 
victorious advance that they could so easily have maintained 
earlier in the day but for their initial hesitation. The 
Warwicks and Worcesters, under Colonel Faviell, were 
holding their own on the right, but were threatened by a 
Turkish attack from the north. This attack materialized 
later, but was successfully beaten off. The line was being 
reinforced and strengthened everywhere ; two aeroplanes 
were busy with machine-guns and bombs, and the six 
armoured-cars — three British and three Russian — were 
doing fine work on the plateau. 

But as the enemy was now holding the heights right 
and left of Wolf's Gap, he was enabled to bring up his 
reinforcements almost unimpeded, and, unless a successful 
counter-attack could be brought off, it would soon be 
impossible to prevent him from completing his capture 
of the town. Any further advance on his part would 
drive a wedge in between the two portions of the 39th 
Brigade and compel their withdrawal. 

All this time the town was being shelled at intervals. 
The shells did little harm, but the Turk knew well the 
moral effect of shell fire in a town. He calculated on 
maintaining a state of panic, and the town fully justified 
his calculations. 

About 9 a.m. came the joyful news that two ships had 
arrived bringing reinforcements from Bieherakov. As his 
troops could certainly be relied on, it seemed that now 
indeed the situation might be saved. The news went 
round the town and up to the fighting troops with extra- 
ordinary rapidity, and the fighting value of the local 
army increased by fifty per cent. There were the ships 
slowly coming into harbour, crowded from bow to stern. 
But alas, our field glasses showed us only too plainly 
that whatever they were they had not much the appearance 



THE WITHDRAWAL 301 

of troops. In a short time it transpired that the ships 
contained not Bicherakov's heroes, but the unheroic 
elements of Baku itself, who had boarded two steamers 
and put to sea in ignominious flight and had been 
recaptured by one of the gunboats and brought back. 
But the false news had been helpful, and the reaction 
on discovery of the disappointment could not make 
things any worse than they were before. 

The principal targets in the town for the enemy*s 
artillery were the two hotels, the Europe and the 
M^tropole, which had been alternately used as Colonel 
Key worth's Head Quarters. These were soon rendered 
untenable. 

Throughout the morning I was very loth to interfere 
with General Dukuchaiev, the Commander-in-Chief, as 
I was quite aware of the need for his being able to work 
out his plans without disturbance, and with Colonel 
Stokes as his Chief Staff Officer I felt quite confident 
of the liaison between the 39th Brigade and the local 
troops being maintained and of sound measures being 
undertaken. When I did determine to visit him in his 
Head Quarters I found that I had been needlessly diffident. 
I was admitted to his office at 11 a.m., and a worse 
state of confusion I have never beheld. This indeed made 
me lose all hope. I am not blaming the General himself ; 
it is hard to play the part of Commander-in-Chief in a 
revolutionary army when aU are equal and all have an 
equal right to make and discuss plans, but the adoption 
of any consistent line of action amid such turmoil becomes 
impossible. 

True enough the General's room was in a sort of inner 
sanctuary, reached after passing through several other 
rooms containing an unnecessary number of soldier- 
clerks and officials, but on opening the door I soon found 
that though in a remote corner, it was by no means a 
sanctuary. In fact it is hardly an exaggeration to say 



802 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

that the sound of the shells bursting in the street outside 
was drowned by the din within. The first sight that met 
my gaze was the General himself, not seated quietly with 
his Staff pondering the problem before him, but standing 
in the middle of the room with a tall Cossack Lieutenant 
towering over him and gesticulating with such fury that 
I really thought he was about to strike him. There is 
no advantage in mentioning this officer's name, but he 
was well known to us all as a man of most excitable tem- 
perament, and he will doubtless recognize himself if this 
book ever comes his way. 

When the Lieutenant was removed, the General, 
instead of ordering his arrest, merely said, " Yes, he's 
a hot-tempered fellow, isn't he ? " Truly the Russian 
temperament is a wonderful mixture of extremes. Frantic 
excitement instantaneously replaced by placid calm. 

Other less furious advisers stood ready to take the 
Lieutenant's place, the telephone bell rang incessantly, 
and the General answered most of the calls himself, while 
on the balcony were gathered Colonel Stokes and other 
British officers, who found the turmoil of the street 
noises less disturbing than the clamour of the office. 

The object of my visit was firstly to find out how things 
were going at Russian Head Quarters, and secondly to 
impress on the General that only by determined counter- 
attack could the situation be saved. The latter point 
had naturally been already considered, and after short 
discussion it appeared that the orders the Chief was about 
to issue should bring about the desired result, But judg- 
ing from the half conversations that I overheard as the 
General spoke on the telephone to some Staff Officer, 
I entertained small hope of the attack being brought off. 
The following are examples of the telephonic fragments 
I overheard. '* Why isn't his battalion there ? " "I 
gave the orders two days ago and have since repeated 
them three times." " Don't you know where that 



THE WITHDRAWAL 808 

battalion is ? " " If he doesn't obey orders he'll have to 
be placed under arrest." 

The result of this visit was to convince me that unless 
a fresh miracle were added to the already long list, Baku 
could not be saved, and it was time to consider the pre- 
liminary steps for evacuation. I therefore returned to 
the ships and gave instructions to commence precautionary 
measures. Commodore Norris, R.N., thereupon took all 
necessary measures for the preparation of the ships. 
The Kursk and Abo were made ready for the sick and 
wounded, while the Kriiger was to carry the guns and the 
greater portion of the fighting men. The latter would 
number about 1,300, as in addition to the 900 in the firing 
line, some 400 were employed on town duties, guards, 
supplies, etc. This last reserve was also to find, in case 
of a sauve qui peut with which we were always threatened, 
a rallying point and general support amidst the confusion 
of a fighting retirement. Cotton bales from the wharf 
were hauled on board and disposed so as to protect the 
bridge and the more vulnerable parts of the ship against 
rifle fire. This was all we could do in the way of protection, 
as no strengthening could help us against the fire of the 
larger guns from the Baku fleet if, as seemed probable, 
it turned against us at the last moment. 

It was a great boon that so far the telephone lines had 
not been cut, in spite of the fact that the town was full 
of enemy agents, and as a matter of fact they remained 
intact up to the last moment, thereby greatly facilitating 
movements covering the evacuation. 

Detailed orders had been previously issued on the ' 
subject of the withdrawal and made known to every 
man in the force. The final order would now merely 
require to state the hour at which the withdrawal should 
commence, and the flank from which it should begin. 
But even with every possible contingency foreseen, the 
operation would be attended with very great risks, and 



804 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

the chances of success were not great. To endeavour to 
extricate troops from the fight is in itself a risky proceeding, 
and is likely, with an active enemy, to result in disaster. 
Luckily one might safely say that our enemy was not a 
very active one. Then, when the news of our intended 
withdrawal spread round the town, the entire population 
would regard us as enemies, and my troops would have to 
fight their way through the streets to the ships. And 
finally I was convinced that the Government would 
order their fleet to open fire on us as we left the harbour. 

Up till 4 p.m. I considered that a faint ray of hope 
still remained. It would take so little to defeat an enemy 
who had been kept at bay for twelve hours after having 
gained the key of the position. But by that hour the 
last flicker of hope was extinguished by the news that once 
more the endeavour to mass troops for the counter-attack 
had completely failed. So off went the final order to the 
troops. The retirement to commence from the right at 
8 p.m., covered by the left, where the North Staff or ds 
would have to hold on for another hour, till 9 p.m. 

The sick and wounded from the shore hospital were 
brought on board the Kursk and the Abo, and arrangements 
made for future cases to be run straight on board from the 
dressing stations. Guards were placed as unostentatiously 
as possible at important street corners to help the with- 
drawing troops through in case of pursuit by a mob, and 
all entrances to the pier were strongly held. 

Now remained only a matter of honour and conscience. 
I had previously notified the Dictators that when I should 
judge the moment right for departure, I would remove 
my troops without giving any further warning. I was 
quite within my rights, therefore, if I acted up to this and 
slipped away without any notification. But nothing is 
ever certain in war, and miracles might happen after our 
departure that would still enable the inhabitants to hold 
the town if given a fair chance of doing so ; and a secret 



THE WITHDRAWAL 805 

withdrawal, leaving gaps in the most important parts of 
the line, would not be giving them a fair chance. The 
Turks were not yet actually in the town ; they had once 
before been seized by panic and fled in the moment of 
victory, under circumstances very similar to the present, 
and this might happen again. 

On the other hand, it was a foregone conclusion that 
if I warned the Dictators of my intentions they would 
turn their own troops and the guns of the fleet on to us. 
The problem of how to save both my honour and my men 
was not an easy one to solve. 

I finally decided to inform the Dictators of my inten- 
tions and to take the chances, rather than leave them 
with a feeling (unjust but natural) that they had been 
betrayed by the British. I accordingly dispatched Captain 
Bray, my Russian A.D.C., with a written communication 
to the Dictators informing them briefly that I was about 
to remove my troops. When Captain Bray reached the 
Government Head Quarters the building was being heavily 
shelled, and those of the Dictators who were there 
together with the various Commissaries and Deputies 
were in such a state of bewilderment that they merely 
replied verbally, " Do what you please." This was 
satisfactory so far, but the mood was not to be relied 
on, and I relaxed none of the precautions. 

Up till sunset the battle raged very fiercely, and the 
whole safety of the withdrawal depended on whether the 
North Staffords could hold on to the southern ridges till 
dark. 

Nothing could exceed the gallantry of this battalion, 
which accomplished its mission to the last letter. The 
whole Brigade worked with unexampled steadiness and 
precision, and many stories could be told of the heroic 
lives laid down on this last day of the Baku fighting. Among 
others a very fine soldier. Major Beresford Havelock, of 
the North Staff ords, grandson of the famous Sir Henry 



306 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

Havelock of Lucknow, was mortally wounded while 
leading his men, and continued issuing calm and collected 
orders with his last breath. 

As the sun set the fighting died down, both sides 
feeling the strain of fourteen hours' unbroken effort. 
The great advantage of this was that it made the extrica- 
tion of troops easier, and secondly casualties almost 
entirely ceased about this hour. The problem of the 
removal of wounded men in the dark under all these 
difficulties was a nightmare to me, and I was grateful 
that the problem thus solved itself. 

Soon after dark all the sick and wounded were safely 
on board the Kursk and Aho, and the two steamers got 
under way for Enzeli. Their instructions were to offer no 
resistance to any serious opposition, to comply with all 
orders in case of a meeting with the fleet, and to explain 
that the steamers held the sick and wounded, to the 
evacuation of whom no objection was likely to be raised. 
It was fortunate that we were able to get both of these 
ships away before the suspicions of the town had been 
aroused. That was not likely to be our case. 

By 10 p.m. all troops and guns were on board the 
Kriiger. The artillery horses we had been able to hand 
over to a portion of Bicherakov's detachment, who had 
room for them in a steamer, in which they were evacu- 
ating north to rejoin their Head Quarters at Petrovsk. 
Nothing now remained but to get on board as much 
ammunition as possible, and to see that Colonel Rawlin- 
son was ready to follow with his small steamer. 

The Arsenal, of which Colonel Rawlinson had been in 
charge, was within 500 yards of our wharf and had a 
small pier of its own. During the day he had been 
engaged in transferring the contents of the Arsenal to 
barges moored in the harbour, which could be sunk at a 
moment's notice if necessary. But it was obviously 
advantageous to take away with us such munitions and 






THE WITHDRAWAL 807 

stores as might be likely to be of use to us in a renewal 
of operations. For this purpose Colonel Rawlinson had 
commandeered a small steamer, the Armenian , of only 
200 tons, and had completely filled her with arms, 
ammunition and explosives. The crew of this ship were 
mutinous and determined not to sail. It was obvious 
therefore that if compelled to sail by force they would 
steer a wrong course, so it was arranged that when I 
was ready to get the Krilger under way I should haul 
down my three lights from the masts (which had been the 
guiding signal for any individual soldier who might have 
got lost in the town), and Colonel Rawlinson, on seeing 
this, would get his steamer on the move and follow 
immediately in our wake. This sounds fairly easy, but 
in the event proved so difficult that it is a wonder that 
the Armenian ever found her way out at all. How it 
worked out will be told later in Colonel Rawlinson's 
own words. 

Now that all was ready for the start, with the excep- 
tion of some ammunition which we were still loading on 
to the Krilger, came the event which I had foreseen. 

The spirits of the Dictators and the town rose and fell, 
not as the news from the fighting troops was good or bad, 
but as the number of shells bursting close to them in the 
town decreased or increased. The only shells that did 
not matter were of course those that fell in the town, but 
it is the habit of towns to think otherwise. 

In Baku, when the town was heavily shelled but with 
trifling casualties, the people wailed, '' All is lost " ; when 
the shell fire was concentrated on to the fighting troops, 
and all might well be truly lost, they cried, " We are 
saved ! " 

Now with the cessation of shell fire on the town the 
spirits of the Dictators rose, and the fighting spirit that 
had hitherto been so well concealed became rampant. 
Once more was raised the cry that only came with the 



308 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

lulls in the firing, " We will fight to the death ! " Then 
came the anxious queries, ** What are the British doing ? " 
'* Why are they deserting us ? " and so on, resulting in 
the dispatch of emissaries to convey orders to me on 
board the Kriiger. 

Meantime the town also was beginning to take alarm, 
and had the wharf not been carefully guarded the trouble 
might have begun. A mounted soldier of the Baku 
force galloped up to the entrance of the wharf, where he 
was confronted by the stolid sentry, to whom he shouted 
out, " What's all this going on here ? " " Why are the 
British deserting us ? " ** Stop these movements at once,*' 
and then galloped off to alarm the town. The gist of his 
remarks were quite lost on the sentry, to whom I did not 
think it necessary to translate them. 

At this moment the expected delegation from the 
Government put in its appearance. Two Dictators, 
Lemlin and Sadovsky, arrived on the wharf and demanded 
to see the British General on an urgent matter. I took 
them on board the Kriiger, seated them in the saloon and 
inquired their business. The spokesman Sadovsky replied : 
" I bring you written instructions from the Baku Govern- 
ment to the effect that any attempt at withdrawal on your 
part will be regarded as treachery and treated as such. 
If you have removed any of your troops from the firing 
line you are at once to send them back to their original 
positions. The Turks are not yet in the town and we mean 
to continue the fight." 

In reply to this demand I stated briefly my point of 
view in the following words : " Please inform the Baku 
Government that my present withdrawal is not in any 
sense a betrayal, as you have had full and ample warning 
of my intentions. My troops have sustained the fight 
throughout the day for sixteen hours without relief or 
any real support from your troops, who have done little 
of the fighting. Under such circumstances I refuse to 



THE WITHDRAWAL 309 

sacrifice any more of their lives in a vain cause. As to 
their returning to their original positions in the firing line, 
they are physically incapable, after their sixteen hours* 
fighting, of carrying out that order, and I will give no 
such order. I sail at once." 

On this Sadovsky assumed a fierce and truculent air 
and said, " Then the fleet will open fire on you and sink 
your ships," to which I replied, ** I hope not," and bowed 
them off the ship. 

A Staff Officer whispered in my ear, *' Why not arrest 
them and take them along ? " a useful suggestion, but I 
felt we could accomplish what we wanted without intro- 
ducing any complications, and so I decided against it. 

I should be able to sail by 11 p.m. ; the gunboats were 
some distance away. It would take the Dictators some 
time to get their orders decided on and transmitted to 
the fleet, and revolutionary fleets do not obey orders with 
any alacrity. The fleet also did not care much for any 
Government and were rather friends of ours ; at the last 
moment they might, and probably would, hesitate to 
fire on the only troops who had done anything to try and 
save Baku from the Turks. Moreover, we would leave 
with all lights out, and the gunboats had no searchlights, 
as we had borrowed them for use on the front ; we could 
risk a good deal of fire under such circumstances. The 
only real danger was the Guardship stationed at the exit 
of the harbour to check all arrivals and departures. It 
would be necessary to pass within 500 yards of her, but 
we would be going dead slow and the night was fortunately 
dark. If she opened fire she had no large guns on board — 
certainly nothing larger than a field gun — and the 
probability of her sinking us was quite small, so the risk 
was not an undue one. 

It was an anxious moment when the clock struck eleven 
and Commodore Norris gave the order to cast off. The 
three lights were hauled down from the masts, giving the 



810 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

signal to Colonel Rawlinson that we were o£E, and the ship 
silently slipped away from the wharf. Quietly we glided 
through the calm waters of the harbour, the Captain 
steering cleverly so as to keep some anchored ship or 
barge between us and the Guardship. 

It is always at such moments of tension that the ridicu- 
lous intervenes and brings tragedy very close. The silence 
of the night was suddenly rent by an excited Russian voice. 
A sailor rushed on deck exclaiming in accents of despair, 
*' My wife ! My wife ! I've left my wife behind ! Oh, 
save my wife ! " an appeal that to the sentimental crew 
was far more urgent than any orders from the Captain 
of the ship. The engines stopped, down went the anchor 
with a clang and a rattle, the ship slowly swung round, 
up came the anchor again and we retraced our course to 
the wharf where, after some clever manoeuvring, the 
Krilger was brought alongside and the lady rescued. All 
such incidents have just to be put up with when dealing 
with revolutionary crews. The crew rule the ship, and 
any interference with them only turns them sulky and 
defeats its own object. 

No particular alarm appeared to have been caused by 
the rattle of the anchor chains, and the only thing I 
regretted was the delay and the knowledge that I was 
making things rather difficult for Colonel Rawlinson, 
whose orders to " follow the Krilger " would become 
rather difficult to carry out. 

On a second attempt to leave the wharf another 
female voice was raised in supplication, and further delay 
occurred in getting this second forlorn person on board, 
and when at last we got away again it was well past 
midnight. 

All went well now till the critical moment when we 
were dead opposite the Guardship, creeping along behind 
a row of barges at anchor. At this crisis some clever 
ill-wisher among the crew turned all the electric lights 



THE WITHDRAWAL 311 

full on. Now indeed matters would be put to the 
test! 

With the first flash of lights came a signal from the 
Guardship, " Who are you ? Anchor at once." To 
which we responded with alacrity signifying acquiescence, 
and went full speed ahead. 

It did not take long for the Guardship to realize 
that we were disobeying orders, and she immediately 
opened fire with a gun of small calibre. The first shot 
whizzed over in close proximity to the bridge, where 
Commodore Norris and Colonel Hoskyn were standing 
by the Captain. This was too much for the man at the 
wheel, who incontinently fled, leaving the ship to look 
after herself. In half a second the Captain, Alexander 
Ivanovitch Feodorov, had hold of the wheel and kept 
her on her course. Our speed soon took us into safety, 
and no shots struck the ship, but from the continuation 
of the fire I judged that the little Armenian had been 
discovered and was getting the full benefit of the Guard- 
ship's attentions. Colonel Rawlinson's predicament in 
his vessel loaded with explosives under so heavy a fire 
was as bad as it could be, and I momentarily expected 
to hear the sound of an explosion, which would mean 
the fatal termination of his enterprise. No such sound, 
however, reached our ears as long as we were within 
hearing distance of the harbour, but there still remained 
the great risk of so slow-steaming a vessel with a sulky 
crew falling into the hands of a pursuer, and the chances 
of his escape seemed very small indeed. 

As regards the Kriiger her risks seemed now at an end. 
Pursuit was improbable and her speed was only about one 
knot less than that of the gunboats. When dawn broke 
on the morning of Sunday, 15th, we were making good 
way over the smooth surface of the Caspian, and the Baku 
happenings were already beginning to seem unreal. The 
ship was crowded and uncomfortable with seventy oflicers 



312 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

and 800 men on board, but the shortage of food was all 
there was to worry about. 

This was not due to lack of precaution. Dry rations 
had been kept on board from the beginning, sufficient 
to feed the largest possible number of troops that the 
ship could accommodate, but tinned provisions such as 
bully beef, etc., were not to be procured in Baku, and the 
provision of fresh meat at the last moment, under the 
circumstances in which we left, was obviously not possible. 
But it was sad to see the heroes of yesterday's hard fight- 
ing having nothing to regale themselves on but bread, 
biscuit and tea. If ever men deserved a Lord Mayor's 
banquet they did. This Brigade, composed entirely of 
New Army Battalions, had covered itself with glory 
second to none in the annals of our best fighting regiments. 
The eight or nine hundred men who had composed the 
firing line had been in the position for six weeks, and had 
kept at bay for that period a Turkish army ten times 
their strength. 

It would be idle boasting to pretend that they alone had 
held the 20 miles of front that constituted the defensive 
position of Baku ; many of the Baku detachments who 
held the line with them did on occasions very well, and 
the Baku artillery was quite good. But no one in Baku 
would argue that anything but those brave lads of the 
English Midland Brigade kept the Turks out of the town. 

The total casualties of this small force in this last 
fight were 180 killed, wounded and missing of all ranks, 
or about twenty per cent, of the numbers engaged. The 
casualties of the Turks opposed to them were certainly 
very much greater. The result of the day's battle was 
that the Turks were fought to a standstill, and it was 
owing to this that the extrication of our troops was so 
successfully accomplished. It was impossible for any 
sane person to hope any longer for counter-attack on the 
part of the Baku troops. Had such an attack been 



THE WITHDRAWAL 818 

possible in the early hours of the 15th, the Turk would 
probably have been finally driven off, but in the certain 
absence of such effort further delay in evacuation would 
merely have meant that evacuation would have become 
impossible, the Turks would still take Baku, and more 
of these good British lives would have been needlessly 
sacrificed. 

The loss in materiel was not great. The two aero- 
planes that had taken such an active part in the fight 
were riddled and had to be destroyed. The armoured 
cars that had throughout the six weeks' fighting so nobly 
maintained their reputation for gallant action, and also 
the thirty Ford cars which had worked like Trojans on 
transport duties, were left to the Turks, but not in such 
a condition as to be of much use to them. 

As we steamed away from the wharf the only thing 
left there was the skeleton of the brave little Ford touring 
car that had carried me through so many difficulties and 
dangers since we left Baghdad in January. 

Towards sunset we caught sight of the familiar outline 
of the Elburz range as we approached the Persian shore. 
It was good to know that so large a portion of the force 
as the Krilger contained had been safely brought back 
to Persia, but my mind was filled with anxious surmises 
as to the fate of the Kursk and the Aho, who had preceded 
us. The first news we got on anchoring in Enzeli harbour 
was that they had long been in and all the sick and wounded 
were comfortably housed in the shore hospital. The 
only remaining anxiety now was the Armenian, and as 
the hours slipped by with no signs of her, I despaired of 
her ever being seen again. But to our great delight, 
just twelve hours after our arrival, the brave little vessel 
steamed into port and came to anchor, reporting ** All's 
well." She had had six direct hits from shells, but 
none below the water-line. The following is an extract 
from Colonel Rawlinson's report : 



314 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

**...! made certain preparations on the night of 
September 14th to endeavour to get the Armenian away 
from the Arsenal quay with such munitions as might be 
of service to the enemy and would be of use to Dunster- 
force, in the event of its becoming necessary to evacuate 
the town. 

" I received notice that this decision had been taken 
at 4 p.m. 

" On proceeding on board the ship there was at once 
apparent a hostile attitude amongst the crew numbering 
twenty-six, who refused to work and generally obstructed 
the proceedings. The pier was becoming congested with 
nervous townspeople and runaway soldiers from the 
firing line spreading rumours of disaster. Under these 
circumstances I got my two A.S.C. drivers and my batman 
and Captain Jackson under arms, and was able with 
fixed bayonets to clear the pier and posted them to hold 
the shore end, whilst I reported to the Krilger and asked 
for a picket. This was duly sent, and consisted of four 
men of the Hampshire Regiment. 

" On my return I found a Commissar, who stated that 
he came by order of the Government to prevent the ship 
leaving and to give notice that we should be fired on by 
the gunboats if we attempted to pass. He likewise 
trumped up a demand for one of the guns on board 
(reported to me as unserviceable) to be sent to the front. 
I took him into the cabin, from which he at once attempted 
to bolt, with the obvious intention of communicating with 
the shore. I therefore placed a sentry at the door and 
made him prisoner, and proceeded with my preparations 
with all speed. In the meanwhile the picquet was holding 
the shore end successfully. 

" Soon after dusk arrived a second Commissar (whom 
I know personally) with the same orders as the other, 
and he assured me it would be impossible to pass the 
gunboats, but that he would get me a pass to do so and 




w 

Q 

>< 

«• 

< 
Z 

W 

H 



THE WITHDRAWAL 315 

that he would send for his wife and family and come also. 
I agreed at once, and having passed a quantity of his 
relations on to the ship, I proceeded to the Krilger to 
report, returning with the instructions that as soon as 
she lowered her three lights I was to get out at once, as 
she would then be coming out herself. 

" On return to the Arsenal pier I found things very 
nasty-looking, and at once withdrew the picquet and swept 
all those who were crowding round the gangway on to 
the ship at the point of the bayonet, at the same time 
giving instructions to cast off and to draw out to 
anchor. 

" Driver Norris and Private Parsons, by their courageous 
attitude in the face of large numbers, were of the greatest 
assistance in the operations of clearing the pier and 
gangway, and all attempts on the part of many people 
to leave the ship and give notice of our departure to 
the town were resisted at the point of the bayonet, 
and we left the pier at 11.30 p.m. 

" It was my intention to anchor close by and to await 
the Krilger, but there had been foul play with the cable, 
and on letting go it snapped, and the anchor was lost. 
Owing to the necessity of keeping steerage way in the 
crowded anchorage, the boat was a long way out before 
I could get her turned, and the Krilger' s three lights had 
been hauled down. The Kursh passed me, going in a direc- 
tion opposite to where I conceived the entrance to be, and 
I concluded she was proceeding to a prearranged anchorage 
to await the Krilger, and I held on to the Krilger's pier, 
where I found her and spoke her and was then told she 
was coming out and that I should follow as closely as 
possible. 

" In spite of this she rapidly left us, and it was 
evident we were not getting steam. However, I stood 
by the Captain on the bridge with my revolver drawn and 
repeatedly impressed upon him the danger of any under- 



316 THE ADVENTURES OF DUNSTERFORCE 

hand work on his part. So that when the Guardship 
signalled us to stop and he replied that " he was turning to 
starboard," I was successful in prevailing upon him to hold 
his course and to ignore the fire to which we were at this 
time subjected. It was at this juncture that Mr. Dana 
repaired to the engine-room with his revolver, with 
immediate and marked success and speed increased. 

" The Guardship now opened fire with her small gun, 
and on several shots striking the bridge in the proximity 
of the explosives, it proved too much for the Captain, who 
deliberately tried to pass me and leave his post, and was 
only retained by force, from which time onwards my 
pistol was always in his view, and I called our four men 
on to the bridge with their arms, and we proceeded on 
our course. The next incident was the arrival of the 
spokesman of the Ship's Committee to announce that 
the crew would not allow the ship to be taken out. He 
was promptly made prisoner on the bridge, and we 
proceeded. 

** I subsequently intimated to the crew that I would 
give them a reward on arrival at Enzeli, and that if 
they would not accept that offer we would fight them at 
once. 

** As the spokesman of the crew was in my hands and 
would have been the first to take part in the proposed 
fight from a very bad starting position, he placed the 
proposal before them in such an inviting manner that it 
was at once accepted and we had no further trouble." 

The final scene in this drama was the arrival of a 
deputation from the revolutionary sailors of the Kursk, 
who presented a written petition in the following terms : 

" We, the Committee and the crew of the S.S. Kursk 
have witnessed with intense admiration the heroic conduct 
of your brave British soldiers in the defence of Baku. 



THE WITHDRAWAL 317 

We have seen them suffering wounds and death bravely 
in defence of our town, which our own people were too 
feeble to defend. It is wonderful to us that these fine 
fellows from that distant island in the North Sea should 
have come all this way to the Caspian and have given 
up their lives there in the cause of honour and glory. 
** We are so much impressed by their bearing and 
valour and by the whole episode of the British endeavours 
to save Baku from the Turks, that we wish to be at once 
taken over as a body and granted British nationality.** 

A finer testimony than this it would be hard to 
conceive, and a New Army Brigade that could evoke a 
feeling of that sort in the minds of the Baku sailors has 
indeed something to be proud of. 

The only task now left was to call the roll, and assure 
myself that not a single man had been left behind in Baku. 

I felt certain that all had been brought away, and was 
therefore dismayed to find that Major Suttor and Sergeant 
BuUer, of the Australian Contingent, were missing, and 
also the infantry guard of one N.C.O. and six men 
posted at the aerodrome. In neither of these cases did 
I feel that the careful arrangements made by my Staff 
were at fault, but it was not easy entirely to exonerate 
oneself, and it was therefore very gratifying to hear 
shortly of the safety of both these parties. Major Suttor 
and Sergeant BuUer escaped with the town refugees to 
Krasnovodsk, and the guard joined up with Bicherakov's 
men and sailed with them to Petrovsk. 

Orders were now received for the dispersal of the 
Force, and their place has since been taken by regular 
troops from the 14th Division. 

So ends the story of the adventures of Dunsterforce. 



INDEX 



Abo, S.S., 210, 227, 253, 263, 303, i 

304, 313 I 

Aerodromes, 142 
Aeroplane observations, 293 
Aeroplanes, 142 
Aga Petros, 179, 188 
Akbar, Lieutenant, 82 
d'Albizzi, Marquis, 291 
Aldham, Captain, 16 
Alexandropol, 188 
Alkhavi, Lieutenant, 169 
Alyat, 167, 186, 196 
Amazasp, Colonel, 261 
American Mission, Karind, 20 ; 

Kermanshah, 21 ; Hamadan, 

26, 55, 63, 103, 137; Kasvin, 

141 
Amir Afgham, 89, 90 
Amir Afshar, 131 
Annett, Captain, 16 
Araratiantz, Dr., 214 
Aras River, 168, 220 
Aratunov, Colonel, 257, 261 
Ardebil, 187 

Armenian, s.s., 307, 311, 313 
Armenian National Council, 115, 

214, 232, 255, 276, 277 
Armenian soldiers, fighting value 

of, 236, 261 
Armenian troops, 2, 3, 4 
Armenians, political complexion, 

118 
Armoured car, M.G. Squadron, 295 
Armoured cars, 156, 291 
Arsenal, 306 

Artillery, 8th Battery, R.F.A., 166 
Asadabad, 23 
Asadabad Pass, 58 
A.S.C. (M.T.), No. 730 Co., 268 
Askhabad, 178 

319 



Assembling of mission, 9 

Assj^rians, 179 

Astara, 187, 220 

Astrakhan, 7, 8, 208, 233 

Austrian instructors, 29 

Austrian officers, 79 

Austrian prisoners, 134, 140, 187 

Aveh, 26, 56 

Avetisof, Colonel, 232 

Azerbaijan, 187 

Babookh, "Comrade," 169, 171, 

209 
Baghdad, capture of, 1, 2 
Baku, importance to enemy, 140 
Baladjari, 199, 229, 264, 265, 267, 

296, 298 
Balakhani, 227 
Baratov, General, 25, 61, 63, 70, 

71, 72, 73, 81, 206 
Barttelot, Major Sir Walter, 12, 15 
Basra, 11 
Bateman-Champain, Brig.-Gteneral, 

256 
Battine, Colonel, 178, 260 
Beg Surab, Colonel, 295 
Berlin-Baghdad railway, 1 
Bibi Eibat, 226, 227, 229, 294 
Bicherakov, Colonel, C.B., D.S.O., 

21, 61, 79, 83, 121, 122, 143, 

155, 196 seq., 250 
Bijar, 116, 120, 127, 130, 185 
Bikandi, 61 

Binagadi, 227, 229, 266, 267, 272 
Bisharat-es-Sultaneh, 148 
Bisitun, 22 
Black Town, 227 

Bogratuni, General, 232, 280, 296 
Bokhara, 1 
Bollington, Captain, 294 



S20 



INDEX 



Bray, Captain, UR, 198, 276, 306 
Browne, Major, 204, 209 
Brunskill, Major, 16, 148 
Buinak, 31 
Buller, Sergeant, 317 
Byron, Brig. -General, 62, 81, 109, 
137, 141 

Campbell, Captain, 16, 113 

Cannibalism, 124 

Caspian fleet, 233, 234 

Caspian Sea, commercial import- 
ance of, 2, 8 ; Russian fleet on, 8 

Caucasus, North, political com- 
plexion, 123 ; Southern, 1,2; 
pohtical complexion of, 4, 123 

Centro-Caspia, see Dictators, pas- 
sim, 210, 212, 216 

Chardigny, Colonel, 83, 126, 260 

Chehapin, " Comrade," 39, 42, 47, 
48, 49, 60, 64, 166, 168, 169, 
170, 186, 190, 205, 206, 200, 240 

Clarke, Mr., 246 

Clutterbuck, Lieut. -Colonel, 22, 167, 
276 

Cockerell, Captain, 148, 160, 184, 
244 

Cossacks, first meeting with, 21 ; 
political complexion, 118 

Cost of living, 144 

Counter-proclamations, 66 

Craig, Lieutenant, 266 

Crawford, Colonel, 225, 246 

Currency, 241 

Daghestan, political complexion, 

118 
Dana, Mr., 260, 316 
Darnagul salt lake, 295 
Daylight saving, 176 
Dayrell, Major, 272, 295 
Derbend, 250, 261, 252 
Derbyshire, Captain, 157 
Dictators, see Centro-Caspia, passim 
Dictators, 231, 233, 234, 252, 255, 

273. 277, 279, 293, 296, 304 
Diga, 266, 272 
Donnan, Colonel, 177 
Donohoe, Captain, 81 
Dukuchaiev, General, 282, 276, 

282, 296, 299 



Duncan, Lieut. -Colonel, A.Q.M.G , 

16, 24, 106, 229, 244 
Dunning, Captain, A.D.C., 16, 87 
Dunsterforce, official name, 65 
Durnford, Captain, 164 

Elburz Range, 8, 27, 134, 220 
Engledue, Major, 128, 129, 273, 

296 
EnzeH, 7 ; held by Bolsheviks, 14, 

15, 28 
Evacuation of Russian troops, 31, 

32, 70, 75, 85 
Evacuation of sick, 303, 304 
Eve, Captain, 81 

Famine, signs of, 20, 62 ; causes of, 

102 
Famine relief, 80, 104 seq. ; apathy 

of notables, 107 ; success of, 

108, 113 
Faviell, Lieut. -Colonel, 182, 230, 

296, 300 
Feodorov, Alexander Ivanovitch, 

311 
Ferid-ud-Dowleh, 97, 177, 184 
Firman-Firma, 135 
Fleet, Caspian, 233, 234 
Fleet, Russian, on Caspian Sea, 8 
Foxlee, Captain, 293 
French officers, 83 
Funk, Mrs., 137 

Garmakov, " Comrade," 280 

Geldakh, 168, 196 

Georgian troops, 3, 4 

Georgians, political complexion, 
118 

Georgiev, Lieutenant, 23 

Gorman agents, 67, 69, 60, 66, 122, 
125 

Gilanis, hostihty of, 13, 14 

Gloucestershire Regiment, 7th Ser- 
vice Battahon, 182 

Goldsmith, Captain G., 12, 15, 26, 
47, 61, 126 

Goodwin, Mr., 26, 53 

Grigorievitch, Mr., 36 

Guhstan of Sa'adi, 91 

Gurkhas, l/2nd, 166, 166, 171, 201 

Gurland, Captain, 221 



INDEX 



821 



Hamadan, 13, 16, 24 ; ancient 
Ecbatana, situation, 65 ; com- 
mercial importance, 57 ; poli- 
tical complexion, 60 ; change 
of feeling, 65 

Hampshire Regt., l/4th, 17, 18, 
82, 119, 166, 164, 166, 202, 
208 

Harris, Sergeant, 58 

Harunabad, 17, 20 

Haslam, Major, 178, 261 

Havelock, Major Beresford, 305 

Hay, Major, 116, 133 

Henderson, Captain, 128 

Hooper, Captain, 16, 114, 115, 
135 

Hoskyn, Lieut. -Colonel J., 148, 
229, 311 

Hdtel d'Europe, 228, 257, 258, 259, 
279 

H6tel Metropole, 228, 258 

Hunin, M., 37 

Hugh-Hush Army, 66 

Hussars, 14th, 113, 116, 156, 157, 
163 

Ignati, s.s., 234 
Ihtidar-ul-Mulk, 147 
Imamzadeh, Hashim, 35, 164, 171 
Imperial Bank of Persia, Hamadan, 

25, 103, 178; Kasvin, 26, 78; 

Kermanshah, 21 ; Resht, 36, 

78 
Infantry Brigade, 39th, 182, 200, 

214, 216, 296 
Intercepted correspondence, 99 
Irregulars, Persian, 79, 127; 

Kurdish, 127 ; native, 189 

Jackson, Captain, 16, 314 

Jangali movement, 27, 28, 59 ; oppo- 
sition, 67; attack on Resht, 
201 

JangaHs, 76, 121, 137 

Jilus, 125, 179, 180 

John, Captain, 16, 105 

Julfa, 68 

Kangavar, 23 
Kar-guzar, 62, 89, 147 
Karind, 20 



Kasma, 165, 171 

Kasvin, 133 ; description of, 142 

Kasvin, importance of, 26 ; un- 
friendly attitude of, 27, 62 ; 
intended attack by Jangalis, 
76, 78 

Kazarov, Colonel, 266, 295 

Kazian, 28 ; arrival at, 36 

Kazian Soviet, 39 ; meeting with, 
42 

Kennion, Colonel, 22, 124 

Kennion, Mrs., 22 

Kermanshah, 15, 21, 195; Ameri- 
can Mission, 21 ; Russian wire- 
less station, 22 

Keyworth, Colonel, 138, 209, 222, 
"228, 230, 256, 296, 299 

Khanikin, 13, 16, 196 

Khoja Hasan, 296 

Kifri, 125 

Kirkuk, 125 

Krasnovodsk, 178, 179, 187, 251, 
260 

Kuchik Khan, 14, 251 ; hostiUty of, 
27, 28 ; parleys with, 166 ; 
sues for peace, 204 

Kuflan Kuh, 257 

Kuhn, Mr., 178, 179 

Kura River, 168, 196 

Kurds, hostility of, 13 ; road 
guards, 19 

Kursk, S.S., 210, 218, 227, 239, 
253, 263, 303, 304, 313 

Kuzmin, Colonel, 179 

Lake Urumiah, 117, 126 
Landing grounds, 142 
Lastochkin, General, 61 
Lazarev, "Comrade," 168, 209 
Lemlin, " Dictator," 233, 308 
Lenkoran, 221, 226, 232, 261, 260, 

292 
Levies, Persian, 79, 116; Kurdish, 

124; Persian, 124, 126, 189, 

195 
Lewin, Brig. -General, 279 
Lewis gun, 16 
Ley, Major, D.S.O., 266, 296, 

299 
Locker-Lampson's armoured cars 

167 



22 



322 



INDEX 



Macarthy, Major, 129, 196 
Macbeth, Lieutenant, 267 
MacDonnell, Mr., 115 
Mahi-Dasht, 21 

Malleson, General, 178, 179, 260 
Marling, Sir Charles, 26, 181 
Masazir salt lake, 229 
Matthews, Lieut. -Colonel, 165, 166, 

201, 203 
McCleverty, Captain, 203 
McDonnell, Major, 280 
McDowell, Mr., 25, 86 
McLaren, Mr., 36, 137, 167, 172 ; 

a prisoner, 78 
McMurray, Mr., 25, 72, 93, 113, 

178 
Medem, Colonel Baron, 71 
Menjil, 7, 31, 33, 61 ; fortified by 

Jangalis, 78; Battle of, 158 

seq. 
Merv, 178 
Meshed, 178, 260 
Mianeh-Zinjan road threatened, 

116 
Mianeh, 186, 188 
Midhat-es-Sultaneh, 147 
Moir, Mr., 97, 172, 203 
Mosul, 188 
Mud Volcano, 229, 256, 261, 264, 

265, 266, 268 
Mughan Steppe, 220, 260 

Nagober, 35 

Narghin island, 226 

Naval ratings, 211 

Newcome, Major, 167, 240, 258 

Nizam-es-Sultan, 86, 87, 89 

Noel, Captain, 78, 137, 156, 157, 
201, 220, 255, 256, 260 

Novkhany, 266 

Norris, Commodore, 212, 233, 261, 
303, 309, 311 

Norris, Driver, R.F.A., 315 

North Staffordshire Regiment, 7th 
Service Battahon, 182, 222, 
223, 229, 230, 231, 255, 266 seq., 
294, 295, 296, 298, 305 

Oakshot, Mr., 36, 78, 137, 167 
Offley-Shore, General, 26 
Osborne, Captain, 183 



Pai-Taq, 17 
"Partisans," 21, 22 
Pennington, Lieutenant, 188 
Petrol, supply of, 49, 03, 170 
Petrov, " Comrade," 207, 223, 224, 

225, 226, 244, 245, 254 
Pike, Colonel, 26, 47, 61, 126, 261 
Pike, Private, A.S.C., 37 
Poidebard, Lieutenant, 83 
Pope, Captain, 113, 157, 163 
Parsons, Private, 315 
President KriXger, s.s., 210, 226, 

227, 232, 252, 253, 263, 297, 

303, 307 
Proclamations, 64 
Profiteering, 249 
Pulverman, Major, 293 

Qasr-i-Shirin, 196 

Rais-i-Telefon, 145, 146, 148, 160, 

161, 162 
Rawlinson, Lieut. -Colonel, R.F.A,, 

179, 254, 260, 292, 306 
Red Guards, 64 
Resht, capital of Gilan, 28, 164; 

political complexion, 184; 

Battle of, 201 seq. 
R.F.A. , 8th Battery, 266 
Road Company, 207 
Road-guards, Kurdish, 124 
Rouble notes, 241 
Routledge, Sergeant, 16 
Rowlandson, Major, 25, 167, 260 
Royal Navy, 211 ^ 

Royal Warwickshire Regt., 9th 

Service Battahon, 182, 230, 265, 

267, 272, 295, 298, 300 
Rule of the road, 176 
Russian battle-line, 2, 6, 6 
Russian fleet on Caspian Sea, 8 
Russian officers in Turkish army, 

168 
Russian officers with mission, 10 
Russo-British Volunteer Corps, 71 
Ruz, Dunstertorce camp at, 65 

Saad-es-Sultaneh, 62, 87, HI 
Sadovsky, "Dictator," 233, 308 
Sahneh Pass, 23 
Sain Kaleh, 189 



INDEX 



323 



Sakiz, 130 

Salt lake, Masazir, 229 
Sauj-Bulaq, 117, 180, 189 
Saunders, Captain, G.S.O., 16, 42, 

43, 45, 48, 60, 87, 93, 97, 117, 

147, 151, 244 
Searight, Captain, 204, 244 
Sefid Rud, 33 
Shabli Pass, 182, 188 
Shahsavens, 131, 189 
Shaumian, Bolshevik leader, 115; 

" Comrade," 207, 226, 244, 245, 

254 
Sheverin, 01, 75 
Singer, Lieutenant, 15, 27, 35 
Sinjabis, 125 

Sinneh, Turkish Consul at, 98, 120, 
. 131 

Sipah-Salar, 133, 135 
Snowstorms, 13, 18, 24, 52, 67 
Sovlaief, Lieutenant, 143, 145, 146, 

148 
Sparrow, Captain, 265 
Stames, Major, 116, 127, 130, 131, 

179, 189 
Stepanov, Captain, 221 
Stokes, Lieut. -Colonel, 122, 126, 

156, 157, 208, 232, 276, 296 
Stork, Captain, 16 
Sultanabad, 116 
Sultan Bulaq Pass, 26, 31, 66, 82, 

135 
Supplies, 61, 62, 76, 94, 114 
Surakhani, 295 
Surkh-a-Disa, 18, 19, 20 
Suttor, Major, 317 



Tabriz, 58, 117; attack on, 126 
Taq-i-Giri Pass, 7, 17 
Teheran, visit to, 117, 133j 
Tiflis, 2, 3 ; political complexioi> 

of, 4 
Topham, Captain, 117 
Trebizond, 232 

Urumiah, 179, 180 

llsheg, S.S., 252 

Vandenberg, Major, 254 
Ventur, s.s., 234 
von der Floss, General, 232 
von Passchen, 29, 160, 161, 162, 
201, 202, 203 

Wagstaff, Major, 117, 127, 131,^189 
Warden, Lieut. -Colonel, 148,^223, 

253 
Watson, Sergeant, 16, 68 
Wheat, prices of, 124, 144 
White House, 295 
White Town, 227 
Whitmarsh, Major, 178, 243 
Wolfs Gap, 231, 294, 295, 300 
Worcestershire Regt., 9th Service 

Battalion, 182, 230, 265, 266^ 

298, 300 

Yarmakov, "Dictator," 233 

Zageh, 24 
Zemski Soyuz, 74 
Zinjan, 117, 127, 131, 185 
Zypalov, Lieutenant, 24 



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WOKING AND LONDON 



Telegrams : "Scholarly, London." 41 and 43 Maddox Street, 

Telephone : 1883 Mayfair. Bond Street, London, W. i. 

March J 1920. 

Mr. Edward Arnold's 
SPRING 

ANNOUNCEMENTS, 1920. 

THE MARCH ON PARIS AND THE 
BATTLE OF THE MARNE, 1914. 

By ALEXANDER VON KLUCK, Generaloberst. 

With Portrait and Maps, and Notes by the Historical Section (Military 
Branch) of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Demy Svo. los. 6d. net. 

In this book General Von Kluck gives us the history of the 
First Army from August 2nd to September i6th, 1914, at which 
date the " war of movement " came to an end and the long period 
of trench -warfare set in. The First Army — which he commanded 
— was on the extreme right wing of the German hosts, and thus 
it was Von Kluck who came into collision with the British 
Expeditionary Force at the battles of Mons and Le Cateau. 
His story throws a considerable amount of new light on those 
memorable encounters which we are now for the first time able 
to examine from the point of view of the German higher 
command, but the climax of interest is reached when we come 
to the fateful days at the beginning of September which ended in 
the Battle of the Marne. Von Kluck's verdict on the September 
fighting is that most of the tactical successes were obtained by 
the Germans, but that the strategic victory remained with the 
Allies. How that momentous result was brought about is a 
question which, like the problem of the Waterloo campaign, bids 
fair to be discussed for generations to come. Von Kluck's views 
on the matter (and no one was nearer to the heart of it than he) are 
perfectly clear, vigorously expressed, and evidently most pertin- 
aciously held. His narrative can never cease to be one of the 
indispensable sources for the history of those tremendous days 
in which the fate of European civilization was decided. 

The volume is accompanied by a large and elaborate map in 
four colours, giving in detail the routes of the units of the First 
German Army in the advance to the Grand Morin and retreat to 
the Aisne. 



2 Mr. Edward A mold's Spring A nnouncements. 

A BRIGADE OF THE OLD 
ARMY, 1914. 

By Lieut.-General Sir AYLMER HALDANE, 
K.C.B., D.S.O., 

Author of "How we Escaped i-ko.m Pretoria." 

With Maps. Demy Svo. los. 6d. net. 

General Haldane, who has just been given the highly import- 
ant command in Mesopotamia, was in command of the i6th 
Infantry Brigade at Shorncliffe at the time of the outbreak of the 
Great War. This brigade formed part of the 4th Division and 
left for France to join the rest of the Expeditionary Force on the 
22nd of August, proceeding on landing to Le Cateau, where the 
Division formed the extreme left of the allied armies in that 
engagement. From thence, during the famous retreat and 
advance to the Aisne, its movements were bound up with those of 
the rest of the force. On October 7th the loth Brigade left the 
Aisne and moved to St. Omer, and was soon involved in the 
violent fighting along the River Lys which continued until 
General Haldane left to take over command of the 3rd Division. 

Originally intended for the officers and men of his brigade, 
this record of the first phase of the War by their commander has 
been considered likely to interest that wide public which cannot 
read too much about those memorable first months. Many 
books have been and will yet be written on the great retreat, but 
few are likely to appear with the cachet of a more distinguished 
career in the War than that of Sir Aylmer Haldane. 

NOTES ON SPORTING RIFLES 

(FOR USE IN INDIA AND ELSEWHERE). 

By Major GERALD BURRARD, D.S.O., 

Late Royal Field Artillery. 

Crown 8w. Cloth 4s. 6d. net. 

Originally intended for the novice in Indian sport, the greater 
part of these notes will hold good for big game shooting in other 
countries. It is more than fifty years since Forsyth's " The 
Sporting Rifle and its Projectiles " was published, and in the 
interval no book dealing solely with rifles has appeared — and, 
moreover, a great change in the manufacture of sporting rifles 
has taken place during the last ten years. It is therefore hoped 
that this compact little volume will be a help to the numerous 
young men who are going to India and elsewhere in the army 
and public services. 



Mr. Edward Arnold's Spring Announcements. 3 

THE ADVENTURES OF 
DUNSTERFORCE. 

By Major-General L. C. DUNSTERVILLE, C.B. 
With Illustrations and Maps. Demy Svo. 18s. net. 

Who is not familiar with Mr. Rudyard Kipling's figure of 
Stalky, the schoolboy '* wily Odysseus " ? Stalky has grown up, 
and is now Major-General Dunsterville, the author of this work. 

To-day, eighteen months after the events described herein, the 
eyes of Europe are again focussed on the stage where Stalky and 
his command played their part. To any student of political 
movement, the first contact of the British soldier with Bolshe- 
vism and Pan- Islam must needs be of interest, and the more so 
when presented by an observer blessed with an unfailing sense of 
humour and a courage undaunted by the appalling complexity of 
the task allotted to him. 

Towards the end of 191 7, under the seal of absolute secrecy, 
a plan was hatched in London to fill the gap left by the defection 
of Russia for the infiltration of enemy propaganda into Asia via 
the Caucasus and Persia. Hence the '' Hush Hush Army," a 
body of officers and N.C.Os. each fastidiously handpicked from 
every front, France, Salonika, Palestine, Mesopotamia — repre- 
senting every part of the British Empire — in fact, a microcosm 
of Anglo-Saxondom in arms. 

It was a very highly picked force that the author was ordered 
to lead in a desperate attempt to deal with the newly-arisen 
situation. It was originally intended to organize, with Tiflis as 
centre, the Christian populations of the Caucasus against the then 
unopposed Turkish arms. It was physically impossible for either 
London or Baghdad to keep in touch with the kaleidoscopic 
changes of the situation, which compelled complete modification 
of the original plan. This book sets out the way in which was 
achieved that success, whose measure can be gauged by the 
amazement with which the world heard during the last fortnight 
of August, 19 1 8, that a British force had occupied Baku. 

To General Dunsterville's courage and foresight is largely due 
our present position in Persia. Treachery, bad roads, famine, 
intrigue, armed opposition by those whom he had set out to help, 
were successfully overcome. The whole story is a tribute of the 
highest order to the amazing versatility of the race. Englishmen, 
Australians, South Africans, Canadians, New Zealanders, and a 
handful of faithful Russians, pioneered the road for the Gurkhas 
and the immortal 39th Infantry Brigade, whose feats of arms 
alone would have more than justified the writing of this volume. 

Mr. Kipling's estimate of Stalky, the boy, is amply realized in 
the story, as told by himself, of Stalky the man. 



4 Mr. Edward Arnold's Spring Annowtcements, 

OUR KID, AND OTHER LONDON 
AND LANCASHIRE SKETCHES. 

By the Rev. Canon PETER GREEN, 

Author of " How to deal with Lads," etc. 

Crown 8vo. Paper 2s. 6d. net ; cloth ^s. 6d. net. 

The sketches of which this book is made up, and which attracted 
a great deal of attention when they were appearing in the Man- 
chester Guardian, fall into three divisions. The first are character 
sketches of Lancashire boys of various ages from Our Kid, who 
is still at school, to Johnny, the hero of the sketch " Johnny on 
Mules," who is in the army. All who know the author's books 
on Lads' Clubs and the training of boys will read them with interest. 
The second and largest section of the sketches deals with life in 
the poorer parts of London and will appeal to all Londoners, for 
they are filled with the love of a true Cockney for " that fair city 
London." And old public school boys, with pleasant memories 
of the school or college mission they support, will read them with 
interest. The last section, which includes such sketches as " On 
being a Lancashire Man," and "On being a Yorkshire Man" and 
" Black Magic," are humorous essays of general appeal. 

A SOUL'S PROGRESS. 

By P. W. ROBERTSON, M.A., Ph.D. 
Demy 8vo. 8s. 6d. net. 

This is a book of five studies in temperament when played upon 
and modulated by the influence of some gracious and coloured 
environment. ^' He felt the genius of places; and I sometimes think he 
resembles the places he knew and liked best, and where his lot fell." Dr. 
Robertson might almost have taken that sentence from Walter 
Pater as the motif of his book. The hunter and the haunter of 
cities will certainly care to possess and to return to this volume, 
as will many readers who, in an age of emphasis, still desire to 
build out of their own experience an inner spiritual city of the 
nuances and refinements of memory. 

Dr. Robertson has travelled far for his five types : to Alexandria 
in the reign of Cleopatra, China in the eighth century, Parma in the 
time of Correggio, Danzig in the seventeenth century, and Burma 
a few years ago. In a brief introduction he gives the clue to the 
understanding of the spiritual unity of his book. It is a book, 
also, that shows a finely-wrought style of much beauty and sugges- 
tiveness, the portraits being clothed in a verbal raiment which 
interprets very exactly the spirit in which they were conceived. 



Mr. Edward Arnold'' s Spring Announcements, 5 

THE PROMETHEUS BOUND OF 
AESCHYLUS. 

Represented in English and explained by E. G. HARMAN. 

Demy Svo. los. 6d. net. 

In this volume the author puts forward an ingenious and 
entirely novel interpretation of Aeschylus' famous drama, the 
essential feature of which is that he explains it as a daring piece 
of concealed political writing, the key to which is to be found in 
the party-strife which was raging in Athens at the time. A 
similar theme is handled in the book mentioned immediately 
below, and the argument in each case is in very close relation to 
that of the other. The Essay is followed by an original transla- 
tion of the " Prometheus Bound," and the Greek text has been 
printed opposite the English version for the purpose of convenient 
reference. 

THE BIRDS OF ARISTOPHANES 

CONSIDERED IN RELATION 
TO ATHENIAN POLITICS. 

By the SAME AUTHOR. 

Demy Svo. los. 6d. net. 

Mr. Harman here works out a theory with regard to " The 
Birds " closely analogous to the one propounded in the book just 
mentioned with regard to " Prometheus Bound," namely, that the 
real clue to its drift is to be found by regarding it as a veiled 
criticism on contemporary events. In the present volume he 
develops his view at considerably greater length, and, in a retro- 
spect extending over about a century, establishes the historical 
points on which his argument is based. He then takes us through 
the play, and in a concluding chapter shows that this view of 
it throws an illuminating light on the politics of the day. 

POEMS. 

By E. G. HARMAN. Crown Svo. 6s. net. 

COOKERY FOR DYSPEPTICS. 

By the late Dr. G. HERSCHELL. 

Revised and Rewritten by ADOLPHE ABRAHAMS, 
O.B.E., M.D. Camb., M.R.C.P. Lond. 

Demy Svo. 2S. 6d. net. 



6 Mr. Edward Arnold's Spring Announcements, 

TECHNIQUE AND INTERPRETA- 
TION IN VIOLIN PLAYING. 

By ROWSBY WOOF, F.R.A.M., 

Profbssor of the Violin at the RovAt Academy of Music. 

Crown Svo. 
In this volume Professor Woof has embodied some suggestions 
and directions on both the technical and the interpretative aspect 
of violin playing which he has already applied with gratifying 
success in the course of his professional career. It is intended 
for amateur as well as professional violinists. 

RECENTLY PUBLISHED. 

GARDENS : THEIR FORM 
AND DESIGN. 

By the Viscountess WOLSELEY. 

Illustrated by Miss M. G. CAMPION. 

Svo, 2IS. net. 

" Lady Wolseley's handsome volume, with its beautiful illustrations and 
spacious pages, is a stately treatise in the grand manner. But it is as an 
artist concerned in the principles of form and design that her book should be 
welcomed by all to whom fair surroundings are not merely a convenience, 
but a necessity of the spirit." — Nation. 

MEMORIES OF THE MONTHS. 

SIXTH SERIES. 

By the Rt. Hon. Sir HERBERT MAXWELL, Bt., F.R.S. 
With Plates. Large Crown Svo. los. 6d. net. 

" • Memories of the Month ' please us all largely because they record, 
without the fuss and formality often thought necessary for Your Authorship, 
the natural daily pleasures of the writer. And, himself gardener, fisherman, 
naturalist, traveller, and historian, he has an eclectic mind charmingly 
adapted for the work of pottering in the wide field of his own experience. ' ' 
— Observer. 

MODERN ROADS. 

By H. P. BOULNOIS, M.InstC.E., etc., 
Chairman of the Council of the Roads Improvement Association. 

Illustrated. Demy Svo. i6s. net. 

"The information given is not only up to-date and reliable, but all the 
modern methods of road -making are fully described and critically discussed 
in a way that only an engineer of the experience and standing of the author 
could be expected to do." — The Surveyor. 



Mr. Edward Arnold's Spring Announcements. 7 

A MEDLEY OF MEMORIES. 

By the Rt. Rev. Sir DAVID HUNTER-BLAIR, Bart. 
Illustrated. Second Impression. i6s. net. 

" Not a few men of the world who have become for a time guests of the 
cloister have observed with surprise that Benedictines seem to know a good 
deal more about the world than those who are of it ; if any of them read this 
dehghtful volume they will be confirmed in their impression." — Church Times. 

"A book which reminds one of those delightful chronicles of the late 
Mr. G. W. E. Russell. The cloister did not separate Sir David from the 
hearth, and he tells us even more about the social than the religious life of 
his times in this most entertaining and genial book." — Daily News. 

JOHN REDMOND'S LAST YEARS. 

By STEPHEN GWYNN. 
With Portrait. One Vol. i6s. net. 

' ' A full-length portrait of one of the greatest figures of our time. It is a 
deeply interesting historical document because it deals with Irish political 
events at their most thrilling period." — Daily News. 

" This work is one which every student of modern politics should read, and 
read at once. There has been no more important publication on the Irish 
question during recent years." — The Times. 

A CHILDHOOD IN BRITTANY 
EIGHTY YEARS AGO. 

By ANNE DOUGLAS SEDGWICK 

(Mrs. Basil de Selincoukt), Author of "Tante," and other novels. 

Illustrated. Svo. los. 6d. net. 

"The memories told to Miss Sedgwick during many talks with her old 
French friend have been most charmingly put together and translated by her, 
and the atmosphere and spirit of the age have been most faithfully preserved. 
The customs, the habits, the dress, and even the food are described so 
minutely and with such telling effect that the most vivid pictures rise before 
one's eyes." — Country Life. 

A THIN GHOST AND OTHERS. 

By Dr. M. R. JAMES, 

Provost of Eton College. 

Author of "Ghost Stories of an Antiquary." 

Thivd Impression. Crown Svo. 4s. 6d. net. 

" Not only are the studies written with a distinction of style to which the 
reader of similar works is totally unaccustomed, but the Provost of Eton has 
managed to impart a most authentic feeling of alarming eeriness to the appari- 
tions he so vividly describes."— S/'^c^a^of. 



8 Mr, Edward Arnold's Spring Announcements, 

MONS, ANZAC, AND KUT. 

By LiEUT.-CoL. the Hon. AUBREY HERBERT, M.P. 
With Maps. Demy Svo, 14s. net. 

"The entire book is full of character, and will be read with absorbed 
interest by all who took part in the experiences so clearly and definitely 
recorded. Military historians of every grade will have to consult this volume 
if their record is to sustain a claim to exhaustive information." — Daily Telegraph. 

WITH THE PERSIAN EXPEDITION. 

By Major M. H. DONOHOE, 

Armv Intelligence Corps. 
Special Correspondent of the " Daily Chronicle." 

With Illustrations and Map. i6s. net. 

" Major Donohoe cannot be too heartily congratulated on the production of 
a book which cannot fail to add greatly to his already established reputation." 
— United Service Magazine. 

"Full of amusing anecdotes, and reads like a novel." — Truth. 

LONDON MEN IN PALESTINE. 

By ROWLANDS COLDICOTT. 
With Illustrations and Maps. Demy Svo. 12s, 6d. net. 

' ' No one who wishes to get an idea of what the fighting on the way to 
Jerusalem was really like can afford to neglect 'London Men in Palestine.' 
In very few war books does the reader seem to himself to get so absolutely 
behind the scenes. ' ' — Evening Standard. 

CAUGHT BY THE TURKS. 

By FRANCIS YEATS-BROWN. 
Demy Svo. 12s. 6d. net. 

" For sheer adventure, intrigue, romance and breathless exploit, it reads 
with all the dramatic power more usually looked for in tales of colourful 
c/ imagination. — Glasgow Herald. 

"A wonderful account, admirably written." — Truth. 

THE STRUGGLE IN THE AIR. 

By Major C. C. TURNER (late R.A.F.). 
With Illustrations. 15s. net. 

" Major Turner writes on a fascinating theme, and by the rationed fireside 
this winter his book will make many a flying officer reminiscent, grip many a 
schoolboy and keep him wondering, and cause us all to settle into our chairs 
the more comfortably that the menace from overhead is no longer there." 
— The Times. _^ 

LONDON : EDWARD ARNOLD, 41 & 43 MADDOX STREET, W. i. 



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